[rabbitmq-discuss] RedHat's Pending AMQP w/ XML Patent

anders conbere aconbere at gmail.com
Mon Mar 16 17:41:08 GMT 2009

On Mon, Mar 16, 2009 at 7:19 AM, Alexis Richardson
<alexis.richardson at gmail.com> wrote:
> Matt,
> On Mon, Mar 16, 2009 at 3:23 PM, Matt Heitzenroder
> <mheitzenroder at gmail.com> wrote:
>> We are implementing a project using RabbitMQ.
> Cool - and thanks for getting in touch.
>> I would be interested in LShift's/CohesiveFT's opinion on the patent
>> filed by RedHat, per http://bit.ly/lTFb
> That's a very interesting question.  We've brought this to the
> attention of the AMQP Working Group, of which we are a member.
> Currently the matter is under discussion - so keep an eye on how
> things evolve.
> The way AMQP works is that ALL members of the WG grant a patent
> license to ALL implementers and users of AMQP for patents held that
> may affect use of AMQP.  So anything in the specification is
> definitely safe from patent abuse and this is upheld by a substantial
> body of law and commercial interest.  This is similar to, say, the
> W3C.  AMQP is protected from royalty and tenancy abuse, as befits an
> Internet protocol.
> The problem with this particular patent application is that it covers
> something not currently in the AMQP spec.  Were the AMQP spec to
> include XML exchanges as an "Extension", then Red Hat would be obliged
> to grant licenses to users and implementers, if the patent had been
> approved.  We don't expect this particular patent to get approved --
> it is too 'obvious'.  In any case we and other members of the Working
> Group are taking steps to make sure AMQP stays 100% free and open,
> even for extensions of this sort.  We want that because it promotes
> interop as the spec evolves, and attracts many more implementers.
> We are however very annoyed about the Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt that
> actions like this cause.  We are astonished that Red Hat applied for a
> patent of this type -- as long ago as 2007 would you believe --
> without talking to the Working Group about the best way to protect
> AMQP Extensions from patent spam and other abuse such as trolling.
> The cheapest and easiest solution would have been to establish
> defensive prior art by making this very obvious design very public
> indeed, preferably attached to legal language placing the text of the
> claim in a safe domain (such as AMQP WG, FSF, or Public).  The fact
> that this was not done, raises questions about Red Hat business
> practice and casts doubt on their motives.  I suppose for now we shall
> all draw our own conclusions.

After reading the patent, it seems as though this is really an attempt
to patent a method which has been in use by many middleware products
simply applied to a new protocol (AMQP). Routing messages based on
data contained withing XML stanzas, where the route is defined by an
Xpath. (one could even sight XMPP as being excellent prior art),. I
would be astonished if this patent application were granted.

~ Anders

> I hope that Red Hat come clean about their intentions and help to
> defuse any FUD.  I do believe they are sincerely committed to the
> existing Working Group contracts and would like to see them defend
> open standards in the future.  Note that I use 'open standard'
> advisedly -- the situation here is very different from the OIN patent
> portfolio which is designed to protect Linux.  There is no notion of
> interop for Linux, at least nothing like AMQP interop.  The approaches
> used by the W3C and IETF are more appropriate here.
>> How does this effect RabbitMQ?
> Currently not at all.  We shall work to make sure that it never does
> and expect to be able to report a suitable guarantee on behalf of the
> Working Group as soon as possible.  There are a number of ways to do
> this, none of which are terribly difficult, and people in the Working
> Group are working as a group to make it happen and do so unambiguously
> :-)
>> What about the overall effect on the
>> adoption of AMQP?
> I don't think that scaring users and implementers is good for AMQP
> adoption.  This gives Red Hat, and everyone else, a strong incentive
> to sort out the mess they have caused.  Then we can all move on,
> probably stronger for the experience.
> Let me know if this helps,
> Alexis Richardson,
> RabbitMQ
>> Cheers,
>> Matt
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