On Implementation of Open Standards in Software: To What Extent Can ISO Standards be Implemented in Open Source Software?

On Implementation of Open Standards in Software: To What Extent Can ISO Standards be Implemented in Open Source Software?

Björn Lundell (University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden), Jonas Gamalielsson (University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden) and Andrew Katz (University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden & Moorcrofts LLP, Sweden)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/IJSR.2015010103
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Several European countries, as well as the European Commission, have acknowledged the importance of open standards (under various definitions of that term) and have taken steps accordingly. Formal (e.g. ISO) standards are often referred to in software development and procurement, but may not necessarily also be open standards. The authors consider the application of formal standards where national policy promotes their use, and, since much contemporary software development involves open source software, they further consider the interaction between the requirement to comply with open standards, and the implementation of open and formal standards in open source software, with particular reference to patent licensing. It is shown that not all formal standards are open standards. SSO policies and procedures regarding the notification of standards-essential patents (SEPs) present challenges for organisations wishing to implement standards in software since such policies and procedures need to be compliant with procurement requirements, patent licences and open source software licences. This paper draws out some implications for those organisations (differentiating where appropriate between small companies and other organisations) and suggests a number of ways of addressing the challenges identified. Use of formal standards may create barriers for implementation in open source software and inhibit an open and inclusive business-friendly ecosystem, and to avoid such barriers is of particular importance for small companies that are essential players in an innovative and international society.
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1. Introduction

‘Openness’ including open standards and open source software is increasingly prevalent, but presents a number of challenges requiring effective policy and strategic initiatives. The European Commission (EC, 2013a, 2013b) and countries, such as the Netherlands (NOC, 2007), Portugal (Ballard, 2012), and the U.K. (UK, 2012a, 2015), have acknowledged the importance of open standards and have implemented initiatives accordingly.

Open standards have been discussed by researchers (e.g. Bird, 1998) and policy makers in the EU and different member countries (EU, 2004; SOU, 2009) for a long time. Some member countries mandate use of open standards, based on definitions which require that standards are provided on royalty-free conditions, as part of national policy (e.g. NOC, 2007; UK, 2012a). Such policies aim to promote use of standards which have certain open properties and can thereby be used as a basis for implementation in software under different (proprietary and open source) software licenses. For example, the U.K. Government has a national policy which promotes and mandates use of specific open standards (UK, 2012a, 2012b, 2014, 2015). In Sweden, the minister responsible for municipalities has expressed support for the definition of ‘open standard’ set out in the European Interoperability Framework version 1.0 (Odell, 2009) and national framework agreements for public sector procurement of software in Sweden refer to open standards (EU, 2004; SOU, 2009; Kammarkollegiet, 2013, 2014a, 2014b) in relation to the standards which can be referenced in procurement.

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