IBM signaled a partial stand-down in an emerging cold war over royalties for web services this week, saying it would not seek payment for its contributions to BPEL4WS.
IBM’s director of e-business standards Bob Sutor told a web services conference in San Francisco, California, he believes IBM will license Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS) on a royalty free basis.
Sutor’s position will come as a relief to vendors, standards bodies and customers who are concerned that organizations and individuals who contribute their technologies to emerging web services standards might charge royalties at a later date.
IBM is among those causing most concern. The company, a patent powerhouse, has been instrumental in driving a number of specifications increasingly regarded as fundamental to web services, such as Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).
Steve Holbrook, IBM program director for emerging e-business standards, recently told ComputerWire IBM would not charge royalties if vendors with similar intellectual property (IP) claims on technologies followed suit.
BPEL4WS was developed by IBM working with Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft Corp and San Jose, California-based BEA Systems Inc. BEA this week released a statement saying it would continue to advocate BEPL4WS be submitted as a royalty-free standard if IBM and Microsoft agreed with that position.
Microsoft was unable to comment at the time of going to press.
BPEL4WS defines mechanisms and formats for interaction between web services. Santa Clara, California-based Sun Microsystems Inc has published its own alternative, Web Services Choreography Interface (WSCI) with Waldorf, Germany-based SAP AG.
Neither BPEL4WS or WSCI have yet been submitted to a standards body for official ratification – the next step in their evolution. An IBM spokesperson said this week IBM would decide during the next few months which organizations to hand BPEL4WS to.
Sutor said, though, it is not obvious whether the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – a leading internet standards body – is the best home for BPEL4WS. Other contenders include the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS).