IBM drops Internet patent bombshell

by Volker Weber

A recent IBM patent claim could threaten royalty-free access to a key Internet standard protocol backed by the United Nations. The standard--called ebXML--is an XML-based set of definitions for electronic transactions and business collaboration.

IBM's patent claim was made in an intellectual property disclosure filed in late March with the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).

Executives from both the United Nations and OASIS said they expected the ebXML specification to be royalty-free and unencumbered by patent claims. Both said they were surprised by the sudden appearance of the disclosure.

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