Voice Progress in the VoiceXML Intellectual Property Licensing Debacle

Progress in the VoiceXML Intellectual Property Licensing Debacle

In January of 2002 the World Wide Web Consortium released a rule
that requires Web standards to be issued royalty free (RF). Some
VoiceXML contributors hold intellectual property related to the
VoiceXML standard. Some of those companies have already issued
royalty free licenses, while others have agreed to reasonable and
non-discriminatory (RAND) licensing terms, meaning any vendor that
implemented the specification in a commercial application would have
to negotiate licensing fees with those contributors. Intellectual
property rights have become a big concern in the Web standardization
process. 

The fact that not all contributors have switched to a royalty
free licensing model has been a thorn in the progress if the
VoiceXML standard. I’ve voiced my concerns previously on this issue,
specifically in SALT
submission to W3C could impact the future of VoiceXML
.

IBM and Nokia lead the way

Recently, IBM and Nokia changed their licensing terms from RAND
to RF. At the VoiceXML Planet Conference & Expo on September 27,
Ray Ozborne, Vice President of the IBM Pervasive Computing Division
assured the audience at the end of his keynote speech that IBM would
be releasing all intellectual property that related to the VoiceXML
and XHTML+Voice specifications royalty free and encouraged the other
participants to do the same.

Companies not offering RF licenses

First, I would like to thank IBM and Nokia which recently changed
their licensing terms from RAND to RF.

On behalf of the companies and developers that have invested time
and resources into advancing the VoiceXML specification including
those companies who already provide royal free licenses, I would
encourage the following companies and any others that I have
neglected to mention who have not converted from RAND to RF
licensing terms to do so:

  • Avaya (supports VoiceXML in Conversant)
  • Lucent (offers the MiLife VoiceXML Gateway)
  • Motorola (developed a VoiceXML browser)
  • Philips (have an ASR that is used by some VoiceXML browsers)
  • Telera (Now owned by Alcatel, have a VoiceXML gateway)

Conclusion

If VoiceXML is going to survive as a Web standard, then all
contributors must license their IP royalty free, otherwise, the
large investment that’s been made will go down the drain. My hope is
that the voice browser group at the W3C will either resolve these
licensing issues in the next six months or jettison VoiceXML and
replace it with SALT. Either way, I believe that it would be prudent
for voice gateway vendors to be working on a SALT browser so that
customers have the option down the road.

Resources

About Jonathan Eisenzopf


Jonathan is a Senior Partner of The Ferrum Group, LLC 
which provides consulting, training, and professional services. Feel free to send an
email to [email protected]
regarding questions or comments about this or any article.

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