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NISO Releases OpenURL Standard, Questions Patent Filing
NISO (National Information Standards Organization) announced it has learned that an international patent application was filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) via the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) by Openly Informatics, Inc. The organization said it subsequently learned that Openly Informatics also filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Nov. 10, 1999. Openly Informatics is a NISO voting member and Eric Hellman, president of Openly Informatics, is a member of NISO's OpenURL standards committee.
On its face, the description of the "invention" in the patent filing mirrors the OpenURL Framework, the basis for NISO's OpenURL standard. Learning of this patent application was of great concern. One of NISO's aims is to create a body of standards that is open, and fully and freely available, with no impediments to implementation.
NISO said it researched the Openly Informatics patent applications. NISO then asked Hellman to state in writing that the patent application and the patent, if granted, would not prevent the implementation of the OpenURL Standard and that people can use the OpenURL Standard without running afoul of the patent. Hellman provided a statement and it is being reviewed.
The following is from Hellman's letter posted on the NISO site: "It is clear in the complete filing that the technology disclosed in this filing is not essential or necessary for implementation of the proposed OpenURL standard, and that organizations can implement the Standard without infringing on the patent, even if it were to be granted in full."
The OpenURL Standard, version 1.0 was released as a Draft Standard for Trial Use April 15, 2003 and the trial implementation period commenced May 1. This new draft standard is the culmination of two years of committee work.
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