ISO: No problems with IPR and Office Open XML (DIS 29500)

by Rick Jelliffe

From two different sources this week comes the news that ISO and IEC have found there is no substance that they can find to the scare tactics on IPR in the OOXML draft IDIS 29500.

This came to me first in an email from a Standards Australia official, then also in Alex Brown's BRM FAQ which says

4.1 Will IPR issues be discussed at the BRM?

No. IPR issues in this process are the exclusive preserve of the ITTF. IPR decisions have previously been delegated by all the ISO and IEC members (NBs) to the CEOs of IEC and ISO, and they in turn have examined them and found no outstanding problems. NBs seeking reassurance in such matters must pursue them through other avenues than the BRM.

Now it is good to be clear here: if you want OOXML to be a specification that allows complete reverse engineering of MS Office 2007, then you will find a lot of shortcomings with DIS 29500, particularly in that it just ignores things happening outside the XML such as in media files. However, that is explicitly not the purpose of DIS 29500: its purpose is to document a file format which is the native format of Office 2007 and has been designed to expose as XML all the information previously carried in MS' closed, binary and/or proprietary formats (with some antiquitites and bugs cleaned up, and with some recent parts as befits a living standard.) The worries about IPR often relate to these non-DIS29500 aspects, which belong to some other debate (though certainly not to no debate.)