WAP Forum Won't Take Sides on Geoworks' Claim

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From: Sally Khudairi (sk@zotgroup.com)
Date: Tue Feb 15 2000 - 04:53:08 PST

Computergram International
Section: 01. Top Stories

By Dan Jones

Last week the chairman of the WAP Forum confirmed that the body - which is
dedicated to the development of the wireless application protocol
specification - would not be taking sides in the arguments over Geoworks
Corp's claims to essential WAP intellectual property. More than 600
delegates from over 200 companies that are now members of the WAP Forum met
last week in Rome, Italy to talk about the wireless specification - which
allows mobile phones view to web content, email and synchronize information
held on the phone with other devices - the Geoworks' claim on WAP was one of
the issues discussed.

On January 19, Geoworks claimed that it had a patent that related to
hardware, software and web content developed based on wireless markup
language (WML) and said that WAP vendors with revenue of over $1m a year
will have to pay an annual license fee of $20,000 as well as a fee of 10% or
$1 for every product sold for the use of Geowork's intellectual property.
Companies with revenues of under $1m will have to negotiate a deal with
Geoworks. The Alameda, California-based company has given firms until July 1
of this year to agree to these terms.

"People say, 'we want the WAP Forum to stand up and fix this,' and we
can't," said The chairman of the WAP Forum, Greg Williams. Under the legal
agreement that a company signs when it joins the forum, it agrees to
licensing any WAP intellectual property that it has to other members under
fair and reasonable terms. Williams said that it was down to individual
companies to agree between themselves upon licensing terms. "The forum has
no part to play in deciding what's fair and reasonable," Williams said. If
companies could not come to an arrangement with Geoworks about licensing
costs, he added, then it would down to them to take Geoworks to arbitration,
as laid out in the Forum membership agreement, and, in the last resort to

Williams is more sanguine about the effect that Geoworks' actions may have
on WAP than the forum's vice chairman, Chuck Parrish, who is an executive
vice president at Phone.com Inc. Williams describes the Geoworks issue as "a
bump in the road." While according to Parrish there is "a considerable
amount of concern in the forum" about Geoworks' actions. He confirmed that
Phone.com has a team examining Geoworks IPR claim.

The majority of discussions on the WAP specification in Rome involved
interoperability, ensuring that WAP-enabled systems work together. Companies
have now started formal testing to make sure that phones, servers and other
pieces of WAP kit can 'talk' to each other. A 'push' function that
automatically sends data to a mobile phone from a WAP server has also been
added to the formal specs. Additional security and multimedia features have
also been proposed.

The WAP 2.0 spec is expected to be released towards the end of the year,
with products due next year. The Forum had joint meetings with the worldwide
web consortium (W3C) in Rome to formalize the move towards the revised specs
which will include some of proposals for enhancements that were submitted
last week.

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