The Allseen Alliance, which is an Internet of Things (IoT) Linux Foundation Collaboration project, was launched in December of 2013. But it was missing one key element -- a definitive patent policy. Now at long last in January 2015, the AllSeen Alliance has defined a patent policy for Intellectual Property (IP), which will come into effect in April.
Philip DesAutels, Senior Director of IoT at the Linux Foundation, explained that, to date, AllSeen Alliance's AllJoyn framework code has been covered by the ISC open-source license, which is a copyright license.
"We knew when the AllSeen Alliance started that we would need a more complex licensing scheme beyond copyright, but the challenge was getting the right policy in place," DesAutels told Datamation.
The goal of the AllSeen Alliance is about enabling an ecosystem for billions of interoperable IoT devices. In order to do that, there is a need for a permissive license, while helping to ensure that products in the market can work together as they are expected to do.
The first step in the IP policy strategy was to develop a compliance framework for interoperability of AllSeen Alliance compatible devices.
"What we're announcing now is an IP policy that sits on top of the ISC copyright license, to add the patent pledge in," DesAutels said.
The way the IP policy works is to help insure that products are interoperable. DesAutels explained that organizations use the AllSeen Alliance Alljoyn code, get their products certified and then can be covered by the IP policy.
The policy is such that all of the code contributors to the AllJoyn codebase have agreed not assert their patents against those that use the code in products that are certified as being interoperable. The IP policy comes into effect for certified AllSeen Alliance product as of April 29.
DesAutels said that there are no patent royalites built into the AllSeen Alliance IP policy.
"If you build with a a compliant base implementation of AllJoyn and you get your product certified, you're good to go, there are no royalties," DesAutels said.
While the AllSeen Alliance today has over 100 member organizations, developers or vendors don't have to be AllSeen members in order to benefit from the IP policy and the AllJoyn code.
"The IP policy applies to anyone that uses an implementation of AllJoyn and gets the product certified," DesAutels explained. "So you don't have to be a member, there is no cost to download the code."
Though AllSeen Alliance has not had a full IP policy in place before today, that issue has not been a barrier to adoption.
"A lot of companies wanted clarity, but the IP policy issue hasn't stopped over 110 member from being part of this, with real products going out into the market," Des Autels said. "Everyone wants clarity on the IP issue and with this announcement the clarity is there and you don't have to worry on the copyright or the patent side - so if you build with AllJoyn and get it certified, you're good to go."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Datamation and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist
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