VITA Standards Organization Approves Patent Policy Changes

The members of the VITA Standards Organization (VSO) voted 35 to 2 to adopt changes to VITA patent policy procedures aimed at significantly improving the standards-setting capabilities within the VSO.

VITA requested guidance from the US Department of Justice’s antitrust authority regarding intentions with respect to a proposed patent policy designed to ensure that participants in the VSO standard-setting process disclose patents that are essential to implement a draft standard and declare the most restrictive licensing terms that will be required to license any such patents.

The new policy has significant impact in two areas. The first is the change from a voluntary system to a mandatory system of disclosing of essential patents and patent applications.

The second area of impact is the Fair, Reasonable, And Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) disclosure of maximum fees or royalties and the most restrictive license terms for licenses to technology essential to implementation of a standard that is in development by a working group. Members to new working groups that form have 60 days to disclose essential patents or patent applications and license terms while members in existing working groups have 30 days.

“The objective of this policy change is to eliminate patent ambush,” stated Ray Alderman, executive director of VITA. “VSO working groups are expected to make sound technical and business decisions. Patent ambushes can delay or undermine the acceptance of new standards.” The members of VITA approved this policy change at the January VSO meeting held in conjunction with the annual VITA Bus&Board Conference in Long Beach, CA.

About VITA
VITA is an incorporated, non-profit organization of suppliers and users having a common market interest in critical embedded systems. Founded in 1984, VITA believes in and champions open system architectures as opposed to proprietary system architectures. VITA’s activities are international in scope. The functions performed by VITA are technical, promotional and user related and are aimed at increasing the total market size, providing vendors with additional market exposure, and providing users with timely technical information.

VITA has ANSI and IEC accreditation for the development of standards for embedded computers, including critical applications and harsh environments, to enable VITA to be the steward of VME technology.