I started today the exhausting task of reading the OpenXML corrigendas and amendments that will be in ISO in the next two months, and it just reminded me of one crucial question unanswered about OpenXML: Who fooled who?More than two months ago, was reported a process that Microsoft has lost regarding patent infringement in OpenXML (the i4i case). Almost two months ago, Groklaw published an excellent article about that issue, but so far I haven’t seen any explanation made by the concerned parties, so I’m writing this post to explain in detail what happened, in the hope that those involved have a shred of decency, character and dignity to respond.
I also think that this is an excellent opportunity to remind the people responsible for the ISO/IEC, that everything I’ll relate here occurred in a G-8 world, and that the countries that appealed against the OpenXML wasn’t “part of the group” at that time. Today we live in G-20 world and this is an excellent time for you to demonstrate that you have the ability to readjust your institutions to this new international reality. A year ago, you choice was to simply ignored the appeals made by developing countries.
Let’s remember the chronology of events:
In March 2007, the company i4i files a complaint against Microsoft over patent infringement in OpenXML in U.S. court. Around this time, the ECMA was starting its explanatory within the SC34, trying to explain why the Fast Track (6-month period) was adequate for the evaluation of OpenXML (over 6 thousand pages of specification).
Time passed, the Fast Track was accepted and the dispute “i4i vs. Microsoft” walked in. The vote on OpenXML happened and, as expected, the specification was rejected overwhelmingly in JTC1, and the decision was justified by more than 3 thousand technical problems identified and reported.
The BRM (Ballot Resolution Meeting) was then scheduled, and I must confess that I have no idea about the real intentions of those who decided to convene this meeting: Discuss more than 3 thousands technical problems in 5 days is humanly impossible (and anyone with good will, mental sanity and a minimum of respect and dignity agrees with that).
They also defined the coordinator of the BRM, Alex Brown (who also played a crucial role in the outcome of OpenXML, but that’s subject for another post, because I didn’t revealed yet all I saw in Geneva), and he publishes on his blog a FAQ with the rules of the BRM. This FAQ also circulated as an official ISO document, and can be found here.
Look what is written in this document:
4.1 Will IPR issues be discussed at the BRM?
No. IPR issues in this process are the exclusive preserve of the ITTF. IPR decisions have previously been delegated by all the ISO and IEC members (NBs) to the CEOs of IEC and ISO, and they in turn have examined them and found no outstanding problems. NBs seeking reassurance in such matters must pursue them through other avenues than the BRM.
In other words, the CEOs of ISO and IEC (the highest authorities of the two entities) had assessed the intellectual property issues on OpenXML and found nothing, so no committee around the world have to worry about the issue… I remember that I’ve asked about it few times, and the answer was always the same: “Kid, you are doubting the CEOs of ISO and IEC ?”… but what about the i4i litigation ?
To keep my “no doubt about the CEOs of ISO and IEC”, the only explanation I have for this fact is the following:
“There was a conspiracy between Microsoft and ECMA to omit the i4i litigation from ISO/IEC, because if this litigation was knowed by ISO/IEC and NBs, I have no doubt that the OpenXML Fast Track would be, at least, suspended. ”
It is impossible to believe that Microsoft, which has the most expensive lawyers in the world, wasn’t informed about the litigation against them (a year after it started).
Most of the ECMA delegates I know are Microsoft employees or business partners of the company. This staff can be anything but “uninformed” and therefore I can’t believe that ECMA didn’t know the litigation too.
So, I change the question asked by Groklaw almost two months ago for a more direct one: Who fooled who?
We all know that all NBs was fooled, that the countries have seen their names used in an unscrupulous way and that all delegates and competent technicians has been fooled too.
I really hope to hear something from the cited parties cited, and I believe that all International Society expect the same. We no longer live in a world where a nonsense fact like this can be accepted, and I’ll not stop until I find an answer (and I know I’m not alone in this quest).
I also would like to know from the ISO/IEC what they have to say about all this. They knew the i4i litigation ?
To finalize, I appeal again to CEOs of ISO and IEC: The G-20 is a reality, and it’s never too late to correct an injustice !