"There's an analogy going around that compares the members of the Wireless Application Protocol Forum to a box full of crabs. Forum members may not appreciate the crustacean comparison, but there could be some truth in the tale, especially as it describes the current controversy over WAP intellectual property rights.
"The analogy drawn by Herschel Shosteck of Herschel Shosteck Associates Ltd. says the evolution of open industry standards such as WAP naturally involves companies that own essential IPRs -- a group he likens to crabs in a large box.
"You don't have to put a lid on the box, because if one crab tries to climb out, the others will pull it back in," says Shosteck. "The competition that results when industry standards are proposed can be a lot like that."
"So it was last week in Rome, when the WAP board met as part of a developers' conference. They decided to leave well enough alone, which means IPR issues will be resolved among the companies that own or license the patents. There was some grumbling about the meeting on developer newsgroup sites but the decision's impact remains to be seen.
"The issue arose after Geo-works Corp. announced Jan. 19 it was going to license its essential IPR for WAP. Geoworks insists it didn't want to stymie the future of WAP, a result some analysts believe could result from its licensing move. The WAP Forum says Geoworks' decision was surprising only because it was made public and that the WAP rules follow the traditional IPR rules long established in the telecom industry.
"Geoworks issued a statement after the Rome WAP meeting saying the forum and company had reaffirmed the forum's IPR rules and the company's intent to follow them. A company spokes-man says some WAP members were "irritated" by Geoworks' announcement but most agreed it was business as usual. The spokesman reiterated the company's intent to make its licensing as painless as possible for small developers especially.
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