September 23, 2008 00:01 ET

IBM Announces New I.T. Standards Policy

To Encourage Improved Tech Standards Quality and Transparency, and Promote Equal Participation of Growth Markets in Globally Integrated Economy

ARMONK, NY--(Marketwire - September 23, 2008) - IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that, effective immediately, it is instituting a new corporate policy that formalizes the company's behavior when helping to create open technical standards. Such standards enable electronic devices and software programs to interoperate with one another.

In the globally integrated economy, open technical standards are integral to enabling the delivery of everything from disaster relief services and health care, to business services and consumer entertainment. They enable governments to create economic development platforms and deliver services to their citizens.

The tenets of IBM's new policy are to:

  • Begin or end participation in standards bodies based on the quality and openness of their processes, membership rules, and intellectual property policies.

  • Encourage emerging and developed economies to both adopt open global standards and to participate in the creation of those standards.

  • Advance governance rules within standards bodies that ensure technology decisions, votes, and dispute resolutions are made fairly by independent participants, protected from undue influence.

  • Collaborate with standards bodies and developer communities to ensure that open software interoperability standards are freely available and implementable.

  • Help drive the creation of clear, simple and consistent intellectual property policies for standards organizations, thereby enabling standards developers and implementers to make informed technical and business decisions.

IBM encouraged members of standards communities to adopt similar principles, which are more stringent than required by existing laws or policies. IBM's new standards policy promotes simplified and consistent intellectual property practices, and emphasizes that all stakeholders, including the open source community and those in growth markets, should have equal footing as they participate in the standards process.

IBM described steps to put these principles into action. For example, the company will:

  • Review and take necessary actions concerning its membership in standards organizations.

  • In the regions and countries where we do business, encourage local participation in the creation and use of standards that solve the problems and meet the requirements of all affected stakeholders around the world. We will advocate governance policies in standards bodies that encourage diverse participation.

  • Work for process reform in standards organizations so that proxies or surrogates cannot be used in standards creation and approval.

  • Collaborate with standards organizations and stakeholders to streamline and consolidate intellectual property licenses and policies, with a focus on enabling software applications to become more easily interoperable by the use of open standards.

IBM's principles were inspired by the results of an online conversation facilitated by IBM during the summer of 2008, in which 70 independent, forward-thinking experts across the globe -- from academia, standards-setting, law, government, and public policy -- debated the question of whether standard setting bodies have kept pace with today's commercial, social, legal and political realities. Actionable suggestions to modernize their processes were offered during the six-week discussion (, with an eye toward increasing standards transparency, fairness, and quality.

An invitation-only summit is planned for November, under Yale University's auspices, that will flesh out recommendations from the online discussion and begin steps toward improving the standards-setting environment.

"Common, open and consensus-based technology standards from reputable standards bodies help ensure that each of us can easily purchase and interchangeably use computing technology from multiple vendors," said Bob Sutor, IBM vice president of open source and standards. "The ways in which they are created and adopted provide reasonable assurances that disparate products will work with one another, and withstand the test of time."

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