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From: Robert S. Thau (
Date: Mon Sep 25 2000 - 15:31:20 PDT

Adam L. Beberg writes:
> On Mon, 25 Sep 2000, Tom Whore wrote:
> > Watch these letters: XNS This will be huge news for personal privacy. A
> "5. Is XNS patented?
> Yes. The web agent technology on which it is based was developed by
> OneName Corporation (originally Intermind Corporation) and is covered by
> three U.S. patents, one Australian patent, and a number of other U.S.
> and international patents pending."
> To bad, so sad, to the discard pile it goes.

The patent angle here actually has a few unusual wrinkles. They are
planning to do an "open-source" implementation of the client side of
their system, under terms which include a no-fee patent license.
However, that license will require licensees to adhere to some of
their privacy policies. Whether they can really do that in a license
which is compatible with the Open Source Definition may depend on how
you interpret "no discrimination wrt fields of endeavor", which may
explain why the description of the license itself is essentially

What kills it for me, though, is that the license covers the client
side only; OneName is explicitly retaining all rights to the patent
claims which cover operation of the central directory. Which means
that, as Strata has pointed out, if you want to use their tech, you're
stuck with them or their licensees, even if they screw up or sell out.
This is not the sort of thing I like to see in a privacy guard.

You won't find this in any of the FAQ documents I've found, but it's
clear in the patent license agreement between OneName and, the
nonprofit which they've set up as a neutral arbiter and/or liability

(BTW, the privacy policy on their web site covers retrieval of pages
from the web site, and their mailing lists and discussion forums, but
is so far strangely silent on the use and redistirbution of XNS ID
information. The best discussion I've found on that is on a separate

but while that document says a great deal about who is required to
uphold the privacy policies, it doesn't yet say much at all about what
those policies *are*. Given that the buzz they're trying to build is
"privacy, privacy, privacy" --- see Berst's anchordesk column today
--- this doesn't give me warm fuzzies...).


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