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FSFE, SIUG File Official Objections to Switzerland's Vote on MS-OOXML
Friday, August 17 2007 @ 09:54 AM EDT

Official objections regarding the way matters were handled in Switzerland at the recent vote over whether or not to approve MS-OOXML as an ISO standard have just been filed [PDF] by Free Software Foundation Europe. FSFE is asking that the outcome be declared invalid, and if not, it threatens legal action. There is also now an official appeal by the Swiss Internet User Group (SIUG).

We've heard of strange events in Spain, Portugal, and elsewhere apparently to try to get approval of MS-OOXML by any means possible -- here's the latest appalling report from the Netherlands -- and it does raise the question, doesn't ISO have any standards for deciding standards? Can folks just make up whatever process they feel like? It turns out that there are indeed directives. However, getting folks to follow them seems to be a problem.

FSFE lists twelve issues, including conflict of interest regarding the chair, refusal to consider concerns regarding Microsoft's monopoly position in the marketplace, that evidence that MS-OOXML contradicts ISO directives was ignored, that false claims were made to justify "the necessity" of second standard, namely the false claim that Microsoft's input into ODF was discarded, that legal questions regarding MS-OOXML were ignored, that a clear majority voted against MS-OOXML but the vote was sidestepped, and more.

It all reminds me of when I was a kid, and we'd sometimes settle things in the playground with a coin toss. There was occasionally a smart aleck who'd yell out as the coin was thrown up into the air, "Heads I win, Tails you lose." This ISO process seems like that, in that people are voting against MS-OOXML in numbers and raising serious questions, but somehow they get ignored or bypassed.

However, the news is that there is now pushback. Let me show you the letters by FSFE and SIUG, so you can reach your own conclusions.

Interestingly, Internet Society Netherlands provides some suggestions on handling future ISO submissions:

From the view of the international standardisation process Internet Society Netherlands feels that a submitting organisation of a standard should not actively seek to influence the local decision process in such a way....

ISOC.nl recommends that the ISO procedures - and more specific the Fast Track procedure - be adapted significantly to better deal with controversial standards like DIS 29500/Office Open XML in order for ISO to maintain relevant. This includes demanding two interoperable and independent full implementations prior to accepting a submission for a Fast Track procedure.

Here's FSFE's letter:

***********************************

To: SNV Schweizerische Normen-Vereinigung
[address]

Shane M. Coughlan
Project Coordinator
Free Software Foundation Europe
[address, phone, fax, VoIP, email]

Reference: FSFE formal objection to the recent UK14 meeting
Department: FSFE Zurich Office

Date: 2007-08-13

Dear Sir,

FSFE would like to formally raise some concerns regarding the current SNV process for consideration of the proposed MS-OOXML standard.

The first issue FSFE would like to raise it an unresolved conflict of interest. SNV delegated its ISO recommendation on MS-OOXML to NK149, a committee chaired by Mr. Istvan Sebestyen, Secretary General of ECMA. ECMA is the organization that proposed MS-OOXML as an ISO standard. Perhaps to avoid suggestions of bias, Mr. Sebestyen subsequently delegated NK149's decision to the UK14 sub-committee, for which he appointed his personal friend Mr. Thomann as chair. However, as chair of the parent committee and by selection of the chair of UK14, Mr. Sebestyen has an insufficiently resolved conflict of interest.

The second issue FSFE would like to raise is that during the UK14 meeting the chair rejected any discussion of the market situation as a valid argument against MX-OOXML. Concerns regarding Microsoft's monopolistic position in the European Union and the United States -- as established by antitrust authorities in both economic areas -- were disregarded on the grounds that JTC1 does not have the authority to research monopoly. This denial was justified on the formal grounds of applicability only within thirty day review period, and not during the five month ballot. However, according to section 11.12 of the ISO/IEC JTC1 Directives, any action or inaction can be appealed on questions of principle and ISO/IEC reputation, among others. Indeed, the ISO/IEC JTC1 Directives specifically reference cases in which an activity is "not in the best interests of international trade and commerce".

The third issue FSFE would like to raise is that evidence that MS-OOXML contradicts ISO directives has been ignored. ISO/IEC JTX1 Directives section 1.2 and annex 1 state: "JTC1 recognizes that interoperability is a major user requirement which can be facilitated bby standardization. Accordingly JTC 1 accepts the responsiblity to identify the key interfaces and produce the key IT standards at those interfaces (including the relevant content standards, e.g. ODA, SGML, CGM) to facilitate practical, time and cost-efficient interoperability, consistent with market requirements and current technologies." A market is normally understood to be an arena with multiple vendors and customers, with market requirements referring to the necessity of those vendors to provide competitive offerings. Although the CRM established that MS-OOXML is primarily a single-vendor format, this was rejected as evidence of contradiction to ISO/IEC directives.

The fourth issue FSFE would like to raise is that the UK14 committee -- by discounting ISO Directives -- potentially introduces a conflict with a WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. Switzerland is a party to this agreement, which specifies that "Technical specifications laying down the characteristics of products or services to be procured [...] shall not be prepared, adopted or applied with a view to, or with the effect of, creating unnecessary obstacles to international trade. (Article VI, paragraph 1.)" Given that MSOOXML is the vendor-dependent format of a convicted monopolist as established above there is reason to believe it will provide a severe obstacle to international trade. The existence of some early adopters does not constitute evidence to the contrary.

The fifth issue FSFE would like to raise is that the supposed necessity of MS-OOXML -- a view endorsed by the chairman of UK14 during the recent UK14 meeting -- has been established on the grounds of false claims by the original applicant. Microsoft claimed MS-OOXML was established because its input into the existing Open Document Format (ODF) ISO standard for office documents were disregarded. However, research in OASIS shows this claim to be false. Microsoft was invited into the OASIS committee and was present as passive observer. Microsoft never became active in the committee by its own choice. Additionally, it must be pointed out that according to our research no request by Microsoft for additions to ODF has ever been denied.

The sixth issue FSFE would like to raise is that the recent UK14 meeting presented one-sided considerations only. It is true that some Swiss bodies have issued statements endorsing MSOOXML. However, Microsoft has previously forced public administration into format-dependency and there is reason to believe such practices will continue. Furthermore, major corporations and public institutions have voiced their concerns over the economic damage done by accepting vendor-dependent formats. These perspectives were not reflected in the CRM outcome.

The seventh issue FSFE would like to raise is that the recent UK14 meeting failed to give legal issues due consideration. It has been established by other standardisation bodies that legal concerns regarding the implementability of a standard fall within the area of technical comments. However, the UK14 chairman insisted that such concerns be incorrectly classified as general and disregarded.

The eighth issue FSFE would like to raise is that the chair of the recent UK14 meeting made unwarranted assumptions. The chair's disregard of legal concerns took place on the false assumption that MS-OOXML offers at least RAND conditions. However, not all normatively referenced material in MS-OOXML comes from a JTC1 Approved Reference Specification Provider (ARO). Neither these materials nor the terms that apply to them are published. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that these materials are available under at least RAND conditions.

The ninth issue FSFE would like to raise is that the chair of the recent UK14 meeting disregarded represented concerns. Microsoft's 'Open Specification Promise' was not examined or properly discussed. This occurred despite the fact that the only parties in the room defending the sufficiency of the promise were the applicants themselves and the chair, on the authority of his wife, who is not member of UK14 and was also not available to represent her position personally.

The tenth issue FSFE would like to raise is that the chair of the recent UK14 meeting disregarded voting rules established at beginning of meeting. At the beginning of the meeting the chair stated that decisions would be taken by single majority if a 75% majority was not reached. He additionally promised to not to overrule a clear majority. However, when the chair's recommendation for the SNV vote was rejected by a 7 to 4 majority for "disapprove, with comments", the chair disregarded the result.

The eleventh issue FSFE would like to raise is that due to the outcome of the recent UK14 meeting, it is no longer possible to come to a decision reflecting the substantial findings of the majority. The final vote of the recent UK14 meeting was structured in such a way that the result favoured by the clear majority will not be presented to UK14 members.

The twelfth issue FSFE would like to raise is that the chair of the UK14 committee attempted to misrepresent the decision he enforced despite the wishes of the majority of voters. In the JTC1 Directives Section 9.8 the section relevant to fast track voting it is clearly stated that "Conditional approval should be submitted as a disapproval vote" and that approval means agreement "of the technical content of the DIS as presented", which was clearly not the case.

FSFE believes that the issues listed above are serious and put into question the integrity of the process and its outcome. Furthermore, FSFE believes that these issues need to be addressed before the formal voting deadline for UK14 members has passed.

FSFE requests that the outcome of the previous meeting be declared invalid due to the numerous issues outlined above, and that the recommended vote for Swiss members be changed to "disapprove, with comments." Failing this, FSFE requests that the current chair of UK14 be declared invalid and replaced by a neutral chair.

FSFE hereby informs SNV that if these issues are not addressed in a timely manner, FSFE will examine the possibility of legal action.

Regards

Shane Coughlan
FTF Coordinator
Free Software Foundation

**********************************(

Here's SIUG's appeal:

*********************************

Swiss Internet User Group
[address]

To:
SNV Schweizerische Normen-Vereinigung
[FAX]

Zürich, August 14, 2007

Dear Sir,

SIUG would like to hereby appeal against a set of decisions made at
and in the context of the Comment Resolution Meeting for the
proposed OOXML standard (DIS 29500) [1].


Summary: NK 149 chairman Mr Sebestyen has a conflict of interests
         between the business interests which he represents as
         Secretary-General of Ecma and his duties as NK 149 chairman.  
         He has abused his authority as NK 149 chairman to influence
         the work of UK 14 in a way which has resulted in improper
         dismissal of SIUG's comment expressing the serious concern
         that accepting OOXML as an international standard would go
         against ISO's fundamental objectives and it would also be a
         violation of Swiss and international law, unless OOXML is
         first revised to make it map ODF (in the sense defined below).

         SIUG asks that if it is found that SIUG's concerns are
         justified at least in part, SNV should include the concerned
         comment in the official Swiss comments document, and
         consequently the Swiss vote on DIS 29500 should be "DISAPPROVE
         with comments" until OOXML has been revised to make it map
         ODF.  SIUG suggests that the voting process which the UK 14
         chairman has started within UK 14 may be allowed to continue
         to completion, and that it should be used to determine what
         the Swiss vote should be changed to if/when OOXML has been
         revised to make it map ODF.


1. What happened

1.1 SIUG has submitted, in the proper manner, before the deadline, the
following comment and proposed resolution as a "technical comment",
in reference to "Part 1, introduction (page xii) and entire document":

Comment:

  It is not acceptable for an international standard to be designed
  primarily around the goal of compatibility with a particular
  company's products.  This is particularly inappropriate where, as in
  the present case, compatibility with an existing international
  standard is neglected in favor of the one-sided goal of maximal
  compatibility with document file formats introduced by one company,
  and where the proposed standard does not provide equal opportunities
  for compatibility to that company's present and future competitors.
  Unless this shortcoming of DIS 29500 is fixed, accepting this
  specification as a national or international standard would be a
  violation of Swiss and international law.

Proposed resolution:

  Change the goal from being "fully compatible" with "existing
  investments in Microsoft Office documents" to seeking to attain the
  same high level of compatibility not only with Microsoft's formats,
  but also with the international norm ISO/IEC 26300 (OpenDocument).
  Review the entire draft standard and modify it corresponding to this
  revised goal.

1.2 This comment statement and proposed resolution are together
referred to in this document as "the concerned comment".

1.3 The UK 14 chairman received SIUG's comments and sent an email
response in which he praised SIUG's comments as having been prepared
in an exemplary manner.  (Exact wording in German: "Besten Dank für
Ihren vorbildlich ausgearbeiteten Kommentar.")

1.4 The UK 14 chairman included SIUG's comments in the invitation for
the OOXML Comment Resolution Meeting.

1.5 SIUG informed the UK 14 chairman informally that SIUG's main point
of concern is the demand for fairness.  The UK 14 chairman replied
indicating that he is willing to support such a demand provided that
it can be based on the JTC1 directives and that it is realistic.
(Exact wording in German: "Ich bin für alles zu haben, was sich auf
die JTC1-Direktiven abstützen lässt und realistisch ist.")

1.6 In preparation for the OOXML Comment Resolution Meeting, SIUG
therefore prepared the necessary arguments and documentation for
proving that the concerned comment and its demand for fairness can be
justified based on the JTC1 directives and that it is realistic.  Of
course, the justification for applying the fundamental principle of
economic fairness in regard to standardization (that standardization
must not be carried out in a manner which is designed to move a
near-monopoly market state even closer to an absolute monopoly) to a
concrete situation necessarily involves the economic argument of
establishing that a near-monopoly market state in fact exists.  In
the same way, applying the relevant principles of international law
(specifically GPA, the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement, of
which Switzerland is a member state) and Swiss law (specifically,
the implementation of the GTA in national law as well as the general
principle of competition law that forbids taking advantage of a
market-dominating position) to a concrete situation must necessarily
involve the same economic argument.  SIUG therefore included in the
prepared argumentation a justification based on JTC1 directives that
this kind of economic consideration is appropriate during the
evaluation of a proposed international standard.

1.7 Unfortunately, on the day before the Comment Resolution Meeting,
the NK 149 chairman sent an email message to the UK 14 members and
UK 14 chairman forbidding UK 14 to discuss any economic arguments,
forbidding explicitly the type of topic that is necessary to justify
or even discuss the validity of the concerned comment.  In this email,
the NK 149 chairman explicitly referred to his authority as chairman
of NK 149, the parent committee of UK, so that it was clear that
this message represented not just his personal opinion as a member of
UK 14, but a decision which would be binding for UK 14 (except, of
course, if SNV makes the decision to overrule him in this regard).
This email is archived here:
http://www.snvlivelink.ch/ll12/livelink?func=ll&objId=1284104


1.8 During the Comment Resolution Meeting, the UK 14 chairman applied
the most unusually demandingly strict standard of proof to already
the first sentence of the concerned comment, which was discussed in
isolation.  Nevertheless, SIUG was given the opportunity to present a
few points of the argument, including the argument which demonstrated
from the JTC1 directive that economic consideration is appropriate
during the evaluation of a proposed international standard.  However
when the point in the argument came where it is necessary to refer to
the reality of a near-monopoly market situation, SIUG's representative
was interrupted in the middle of the first sentence on this topic.
That category of arguments was disallowed, without any justification
besides "you're making too many assumptions" and "I don't allow it".
In view of the UK 14 chairman's earlier promise 1.5 this can only be
explained by the NK 149 chairman's intervention (see 1.7).  SIUG
indicated the intention to appeal against this decision to silence an
essential argument.  Following this episode, Mr Sebestyen (without
clarifying whether he was speaking as NK 149 chairman or as Ecma
representative) made a point about ISO/IEC practice, and from there
onwards the bar for establishing any fundamental concerns about the
proposed standard was raised even higher, to having to show not only a
violation of fundamental principles based on the directives without
any reference to the near-monopoly market situation, but to having to
show that in addition that the situation is significantly different
from previous ISO/IEC practice.  The UK 14 chairman then rejected the
concerned comment for having been "not proved" based on JTC1
directives (such proof was of course impossible because the main
arguments were disallowed), and tried to get SIUG's agreement to
replacing the comment with an editorial comment which is irrelevant to
SIUG's concern.  SIUG did not agree to that.  The UK 14 chairman
completely avoided bringing to discussion the part of the comment text
which refers to national and international law.

1.9 At the end of the Comment Resolution Meeting, the UK 14 chairman
concluded that in his opinion the comments document that resulted
from the meeting does not justify a "DISAPPROVE with comments" vote,
and he emphatically presented his voting recommendation of "APPROVE
with comments" and he initiated a voting process aimed at deciding the
Swiss vote between the options "APPROVE with comments" and "ABSTAIN
with comments".  Event though the majority of the UK 14 members in the
room wanted "DISAPPROVE with comments", the voting process presented
by the UK 14 chairman does not provide for any way in which the
"DISAPPROVE with comments" outcome desired by the majority could be
reached.


2. Definition of when a document format maps another document format

2.1 Definition: Document format X is said to map document format Y if
and only if every valid format Y document can be represented in format
X so that there is no loss of information and so that it can be
guaranteed by a software which implements just format X (and no
compatibility extensions not defined in the format X specification)
that printing out the document from its format X representation gives
a rendering of the original document which is semantically correct
from the perspective of human readers.

2.2 The statement in the OOXML specification itself about its
purpose, which is there phrased as "protecting" an "investment in
Microsoft Office documents" (see DIS 29500 [1], Part 1, page xii)
can be interpreted as implying that it is a key goal of OOXML that
OOXML should map the legacy formats of "Microsoft Office documents"
in the sense of the above definition.


3. The concerned comment is properly labelled "technical comment"

3.1 There are three categories of comments:  Editorial, technical and
general:

3.1.1 Editorial comments are those that can be resolved by means of
one or more changes to the wording of the proposed standard without
changing the technical content of the standard.

3.1.2 Technical comments are those that can be resolved by means of
one or more changes to the technical content of the standard.

3.1.3 General comments are those which can not be resolved by means
of any change to the proposed standard.  (Consequently, general
comments are generally ignored in the ISO/IEC process which has
authority to make changes to a proposed standard but no authority
to apply changes to the rest of the world.)

3.2 The reason why it is proper to label the concerned comment as a
"technical comment" even though it appeals to general and legal
principles is that the way to resolve this comment is by means of
technical changes to the OOXML specification.


4. Justification on the basis of the ISO/IEC JTC1 Directives

4.1 A primary goal of standardization is to facilitate
interoperability between the products of different, competing
vendors.

4.2 What the ISO/IEC directives say: See ISO/IEC JTC1 Directives [2],
section 1.2 and annex I. In annex I, the directives state: "JTC 1
recognizes that interoperability is a major user requirement which can
be facilitated by standardization. Accordingly JTC 1 accepts the
responsibility to identify the key interfaces and produce the key IT
standards at those interfaces (including the relevant content
standards, e.g. ODA, SGML, CGM) to facilitate practical, time and
cost-effective interoperability, consistent with market requirements
and current technologies." The common understanding of the term
"market" is that there should be several vendors in competition
with each other, and in this context "market requirements" refers to
what these vendors need to provide in order to be considered by their
potential customers as a vendor capable of meeting their needs.

4.3 Application to the evaluation of OOXML: A specification which
aims only at making it possible to represent one company's old data
formats in the company's new data format could be described as
providing a kind of "intraoperability" within among that vendor's
products, but not interoperability between the products of different,
competing vendors. In addition, the directive says that the
interoperability provided by the JTC 1 process must be "consistent"
with "current technologies". This is plural and therefore cannot
reasonably be interpreted as referring only to one company's set of
legacy technology at the exclusion of interoperability with ODF which
is the ISO-standardized non-proprietary technology embraced by
essentially all competitors of Microsoft.

4.4 The key economic argument for demanding that OOXML should map
ODF:  In mixed environments with word processing software from several
different vendors which use different native document formats, due to
Microsoft's dominant market position, the common format used for
document interchange is likely to be OOXML regardless of the
technical merits of the standard.  If OOXML is not designed to be
capable of mapping at least OpenDocument Format (ODF), the ISO
standard format that is used as native document format by the leading
competitors to the "Microsoft Word" product, that creates a strong
disincentive against using the word processor software of Microsoft's
competitors in any technologically mixed environment.  This would
have the effect of moving the market situation for office document
software, which is already in a near-monopoly state, even closer to
an absolute monopoly, clearly a highly undesirable outcome both from
the perspective of competitors and from the perspective of customers.
The ISO/IEC JTC1 Directives [2], section 11.1.2 say that when any
action or inaction of JTC 1 or a subcommittee is "not in the best
interests of international trade and commerce", that is grounds for
appeal against that decision.  Certainly, that implies that a
"DISAPPROVE WITH COMMENTS" vote and a corresponding comment are fully
appropriate when a draft standard is not in the best interests of
international trade and commerce.

4.5 OOXML survived the contradiction phase of the ISO/IEC JTC1
process by means of the argument that the purpose of OOXML is
different from that of ODF in that the purpose of OOXML is not only
to provide a document format but also to map existing formats. (See
the "Response Document for Fast Track Ballot of ISO/IEC DIS 29500
(Ecma-376)" [3], section 2.1.)  By contrast, the purpose of ODF is to
simply provide a document format. In addition to the economic
argument of 4.4 this gives an additional justification for demanding
that OOXML should map ODF, although no requirement is imposed on
ODF that it must map anything besides itself.

4.6 The situation with ODF and OOXML is fundamentally different
from the situation with other families of ISO standards with
overlapping purposes which don't map each other, because those
examples don't create the same kind of interoperability problems.  For
example, it is not a big problem when there is a variety of image
formats or a variety of wireless LAN protocols because it is possible
for commercial products to simply support a variety of such standards
without thereby creating problems for end users.  By contrast, when
there are several international standards for document formats, it is
necessary for achieving the interoperability goal that at least one of
these standardized document formats must map all other document format
standards, otherwise it becomes impossible to reliably compose a
document from components which are each in a standard document format.

5. Realistic feasibility of the proposed resolution

The German standardization organization DIN is working on a detailed
study about which elements of ODF can be represented in OOXML, and
how (and vice versa).  Based on the results of DIN's work it will
certainly be realistically feasible to determine precisely which
semantics that can be expressed by ODF cannot be precisely expressed
by the current version of OOXML.  Since OOXML is an inherently
extensible, XML-based format, there cannot be any serious problem with
adding the required features to the OOXML specification.


6. Dismissal of the concerned comment was improper

6.1 The dismissal of the concerned comment was improper because it
violated a promise given previously, see 1.5

6.2 The dismissal of the concerned comment was improper because the
decision to disallow economic arguments was in violation of the SNV
directives which state explicitly that economic aspects should be
taken in consideration.  (Exact wording in German: "Bei der
Normungsarbeit sollen wirtschaftliche Gesichtspunkte berücksichtigt
werden." SNV Richtlinien zur Normungsarbeit [4], V4.2, Punkt 4.1)

6.3 The dismissal of the concerned comment was improper because if
this manner of dismissing monopoly-related concerns were acceptable,
there would be nothing to prevent the standardization process from
being abused for monopolistic purposes.  Such exploitation of a
dominant market position is illegal under competition law, and it
would be highly inappropriate (and probably also illegal under
anti-trust law) if SNV and/or ISO would allow themselves to blindly
go along with illegal "standards war" anti-competitive practices.

6.4 The relevant document of international law is the WTO Agreement 
on Government Procurement [5] (to which Switzerland is a member
country) which is applicable since the ISO standardization of OOXML is
pursued precisely in view of government procurement.  This treaty
states: "Technical specifications laying down the characteristics of
products or services to be procured [...] shall not be prepared,
adopted or applied with a view to, or with the effect of, creating
unnecessary obstacles to international trade." (Article VI, paragraph 1.)
Preparing and/or adopting the OOXML specification in view of
government procurement is a violation of this treaty unless the
unnecessary obstacles to international trade are avoided by means of
amending the specification so that it maps not only Microsoft's legacy
formats but also ODF.

6.5 That unless revised to make it map ODF, the OOXML specification 
has the effect of creating unnecessary obstacles to international
trade is seen as follows:  That there is the effect of creating
obstacles to international trade follows from the argument of 4.4,
(since everything that significantly disincentivates procurement of any
products which compete with the market leader is an obstacle to trade
in such competing products) together with the observation that most
countries don't produce their own office software suites, i.e. office
suite software is traded by means of international trade.  That these
obstacles to international trade are unnecessary follows from 5.
above.

6.6 The combination of 6.4 and 6.5 shows that the dismissal of the
concerned comment was not only improper but even illegal.


7. Mr Sebestyen's conflict of interests

7.1 As NK 149 chairman, Mr Sebestyen has very significant influence
on the UK 14 process, both by his power to appoint the UK 14 chairman
and also by direct interventions as evidenced in 1.7 and 1.8.

7.2 It should not be assumed without evidence that Ecma's interests
are directly aligned with those of ISO and SNV.  In fact, there
is strong evidence to the contrary, as follows:

7.2.1 At the UK 14 launch meeting, Mr Sebestyen said, in the context
of introducing himself as Ecma's representative, "Of course we want
that Open XML gets approved".  This unconditional desire for approval
without consideration of third-party concerns is very different from
the interests of ISO and SNV.

7.2.2 In Ecma's marketing materials, Ecma offers to its customers
among other benefits the following: "Bonus: International ISO/IEC
standard via 6-month Fast-track procedure".  See
http://www.ecma-international.org/activities/General/presentingecma.pdf

7.2.3 During informal discussions within UK 14, Mr Sebestyen has
strongly promoted the "RAND standards are the norm now" agenda which
reflects Ecma's patents policy, but which is very different from the
much more cautious attitudes towards patents expressed in the
directives of SNV, ISO and IEC.


8. Conclusion: What should happen now

8.1 If it is found that SIUG's concerns are justified at least in
part, SNV should include the concerned comment in the official Swiss
comments document, and consequently the Swiss vote on DIS 29500 should
be "DISAPPROVE with comments" until OOXML has been revised to make
it map ODF.

8.2 The UK 14 members expect to be able to participate in the vote
which has been started by the UK 14 chairman, and they expect the
result of the vote to be used for something.  SIUG suggests that the
voting process which the UK 14 chairman has started within UK 14 may
be allowed to continue to completion, and that it should be used to
determine what the Swiss vote should be changed to if/when OOXML
has been revised to make it map ODF.  This is in fact the proper
interpretation of that vote since it has been started and is being
carried out under the assumption of the concerned comment being
excluded from consideration.


9. References

[1] http://www.ecma-international.org/publications/standards/Ecma-376.htm

[2] ISO IEC JTC 1 Directives 5th edition Version 3
    http://www.snvlivelink.ch/ll12/livelink/1261374/
    ISO_IEC_JTC_1_Directives_5th_editon_Version_3.pdf?func=doc.Fetch
    &nodeid=1261374&viewType=1

[3] Response Document for Fast Track Ballot of ISO/IEC DIS 29500 (Ecma-376)
    http://www.ecma-international.org/news/TC45_current_work/Ecma%20responses.pdf

[4] SNV Richtlinien zur Normungsarbeit, Ausgabe 2007
    http://www.snvlivelink.ch/ll12/livelink/1244540/
    SNV_2007%2D06%2D11_Richtlinien_zur_Normungsarbeit_V4%2E2_.pdf
    ?func=doc.Fetch&nodeid=1244540&viewType=1

[5] WTO Agreement on Government Procurement
    http://www.wto.org/English/docs_e/legal_e/legal_e.htm#procurement


Yours sincerely





Norbert Bollow
President, SIUG (Swiss Internet User Group)



  


FSFE, SIUG File Official Objections to Switzerland's Vote on MS-OOXML | 191 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 10:04 AM EDT
Please post corrections to the main article or News Picks postings under this
one.

The nature of the correction can be placed in the title of your comment for best
results.

"That is all."

---
"You interact with a computer differently when you can trust it to be reliable."
--from a blog comment, 2007-07

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic comments here please
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 10:07 AM EDT
This thread can be used for posts not directly related to the main one.

Red Floyd with deal with those who post on-topic here. :-)

---
"You interact with a computer differently when you can trust it to be reliable."
--from a blog comment, 2007-07

[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks comments here please
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 10:11 AM EDT
Use this thread to comment about stories in the Groklaw News Picks.

At least, to help us understand your comment, place the story title in your comment title.

Re-making the News Pick link in your comment may help as well, as sometimes the News Picks stories scroll far away very quickly.

(Next time, tyche's turn...)

---
"You interact with a computer differently when you can trust it to be reliable." --from a blog comment, 2007-07

[ Reply to This | # ]

FSFE, SIUG File Official Objections to Switzerland's Vote on MS-OOXML
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 10:22 AM EDT
The debate about OOXML and ODF is an important one. ISO defines standards that
provide a measured path to quality and compatibility of products.

If any business can hijack the process so easily, than what does it say about
ISO's purpose and standardization process. This MS-OOXML is a patent filled
format that will not ensure fairness for competing office suite products. It is
a means to grab and retain market share.

I hope more will see Microsoft for what it is, a monopoly fighting to remain the
dominant power. This is pretty much the same battle that was fought in the early
1920-1930 with Standard Oil monopoly of it's time.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Pushback
Authored by: scav on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 10:25 AM EDT
The news is there is pushback? It shouldn't be news.

Maybe in retrospect MS will regret rattling their cardboard patent-sabres so loudly while trying to sneak something through the standards process.

They can't simultaneously say "It's OK. We have a patent promise - you can trust us to make standards for you." and "Watch out competitors! We're gonna SCO you!"

Eew. I just used SCO as a verb...

Scav

---
---
The emperor, undaunted by the judge's ruling that he had no clothes, pressed on with his siege of Antarctica, hoping to extort tribute from the penguins.

[ Reply to This | # ]

FSFE, SIUG File Official Objections to Switzerland's Vote on MS-OOXML
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 10:34 AM EDT
"FSFE lists twelve issues, including conflict of interest regarding the
chair..."

Am I the only one that giggled a little bit when this sentence came up, in
reference to Steve Ballmer's experimentation with aerodynamics?

I was always under the impression that the chair didn't do anything to Steve,
but I guess it wasn't innocent, either.

[ Reply to This | # ]

FSFE, SIUG File Official Objections to Switzerland's Vote on MS-OOXML
Authored by: Carlo Graziani on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 10:52 AM EDT
SIUG suggests that the voting process...be allowed to continue to completion, and that it should be used to determine what the Swiss vote should be changed to if/when OOXML has been revised to make it map ODF.

Wow. That's quite a payload, I didn't see that one coming. Keep the vote, just defer its application until after that 6000+ page monster has been de-stupided.

I doubt the SNV will go for that, but you have to admire the SIUG's brass.

[ Reply to This | # ]

his wife?!?
Authored by: jiri on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 11:34 AM EDT
"... the chair, on the authority of his wife, who is not member of UK14 and
was also not available to represent her position personally."

Say what?

Jiri

---
Please e-mail me if you reply, I usually read with "No comments".
jiri@baum.com.au

[ Reply to This | # ]

European Union
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 11:37 AM EDT
Many standards in the European Uninion are copies of ISO
standards. If the ISO standards are so easily manipulated
then Europe has a problem maintaining the quality of their
standards. In my opinion the European commission should
send a formal complaint to ISO about this.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Possibility of legal action?
Authored by: jbeale on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 12:01 PM EDT
I certainly hope MS's shady efforts to circumvent the standards process are
rebuffed. I am curious what legal remedies would apply to this... are there
actual governmental laws that say what the standards group can or can't do?
Which government applies, given that it's an international organization?

[ Reply to This | # ]

interoperability - FSFE, SIUG File Official Objections to Switzerland's Vote on MS-OOXML
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 12:05 PM EDT
From the Netherlands announcement:

"This includes demanding two interoperable and independent full
implementations prior to accepting a submission for a Fast Track
procedure."

Such an outstanding suggestion. To be aplauded.

Just like the idea that working model of an invention had to be built before
filing for a patent.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Reputation
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 12:21 PM EDT
If ISO is in the market to sell their reputation to any company that wants to
trash it, then I doubt there is any way to stop them. I also doubt they can
expect to sell their reputation more than once.

The LAST thing ISO should want is for people to think that their word is as good
as some con man. That would be a recipe for putting themselves out of business
and fueling competition from better standards groups.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Folks, we're not even in the contest
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 12:40 PM EDT

OK, so Microsoft is up to its usual games. What else is new?

The big shock to me is how utterly incompetent we have been in this matter. It's not just that we're losing, in fact have probably already lost. It's that we weren't even in the game.

Reacting, after a decision has already been made, is almost hopeless - overturning a done deal is ten times harder than making the deal in the first place, even if it can be done. Why didn't we know well ahead of time that these meetings were scheduled? I live in Switzerland; I could have done something, attended the meeting, written to somebody, whatever - but this news in Groklaw is the first I heard of the meeting.

People will probably flame me and call me defeatist, but seriously folks, we have got to get better organized than this if we are to have any kind of chance against the Borg.

[ Reply to This | # ]

ECMA - A Microsoft standards body
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 01:12 PM EDT
Obviously ECMA seems to be pretty much interested in trying to further the
Microsoft agenda, that for the most part might be considered a branch of
Microsoft.

http://www.understandingxml.com/archives/2005/12/has_ecma_become.html

For those without the time or patience to read the 6000 pages of documentation
for OOXML, NOOXL "Anand Vaidya has made a very good presentation about
"Microsoft OOXML / ECMA376: Get The Facts" in about 75 slides. This
resumes very well the problems with the Microsoft pseudo-standard".

http://www.asianlinux.org/downloads/docs/itsc2007/ODF-vs-OOXML-latest.odp
http://www.asianlinux.org/downloads/docs/itsc2007/ODF-vs-OOXML-latest.pdf

(from http://www.noooxml.org/forum/t-16529/ooxml-problems-in-75-slides)

[ Reply to This | # ]

FSFE, SIUG File Official Objections to Switzerland's Vote on MS-OOXML
Authored by: Tufty on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 01:24 PM EDT
Is anything being done to bring this to ISO's attention along with the other
issues such as vote packing etc that are going on elsewhere?

Tufty


---
There has to be a rabbit down this rabbit hole somewhere!
Now I want its hide.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's the Golden Rule folks!
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 01:44 PM EDT
It's all about the Golden Rule folks. "He who has the gold makes the
rules." Haven't we seen this time and time again? Look how much
pro-corporate laws get passed in the good old US of A. Microsoft can and
probably will get away with getting OOXML a standard because they have enough
money and power to throw around. You have to hit them where it hurts - $$$$ to
slow them down. Here is a thought... Do terrorists use WiIndows on their PC's,
Laptops etc..? I bet they do.. So Since they use Windows that means that
Microsoft is supporting Terrorists by distributing their OS. Thus shouldn't we
be able to convince Homeland Security, NSA etc.. to treat them as they do other
busineses they deem supporting terrorists?
Just a thought...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Sony vs SunnComm -- now has a GrokDoc page
Authored by: JesseW on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 02:15 PM EDT

I've put the various information I've been able to dig up about the Sony vs SunnComm lawsuit on a page at GrokDoc now: http://www.grokdoc.net/ index.php/Sony_v._SunnComm.

The newest news is that a Proof of Service was filed on August 7th. I'm not exactly sure what a "Proof of Service" is, but I think it starts the 30 day clock within which time the defendants have to respond or default. So by early September, we should see what ever is next. What would a settlement look like? What document would be filed to say, "don't worry, they paid us enough, just forget about it"?

---
(Contact me for comment licensing, e.g. GPL, CC, PD, etc.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

FSFE, SIUG File Official Objections to Switzerland's Vote on MS-OOXML
Authored by: Benanov on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 04:00 PM EDT
Wow. My mind just did a backflip.

One of the people in that meeting in Switzerland complained on Slashdot,
anonymously. I responded (same nick) and directed them to NoOOXML.org, which is
run by FSFE.

A few days later it's on the front page of FSFE, and now they're filing a
formal
complaint.

I'm not sure I was all that instrumental (the news would have reached the
appropriate parties anyway), but the possibility that I may have helped set
this
in motion is blowing my mind.

---
That popping sound you hear is just a paradigm shifting without a clutch.

[ Reply to This | # ]

FSFE, SIUG File Official Objections to Switzerland's Vote on MS-OOXML
Authored by: Stevieboy on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 05:50 PM EDT
Sorry to all those ardent capitalists out there but this is runaway monopolist
capitalism in action with no real worthwhile controls over the man with the
biggest wad of greenbacks in his back pocket.

We just have to face the fact that, when the chips are down, a huge
multinational like Microsoft can come along and, through bribery, blackmail and
weight of numbers can persuade those officials, who are supposed to protect the
interests of the population, government bodies etc. to do the exact opposite of
what their moral and professional obligations tell them.

I'm on a bit of a downer here but something tells me that even when the great
battles (eg Novell vs. SCO) are won by the righteous, somehow M$ will still get
what it wants - a continuous near monopoly and the greyest of suits will
prevail.

[ Reply to This | # ]

For PJ - may I suggest that if SCO should suddenly suffer from a massive TEF ...
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 08:25 PM EDT
...(Total Existence Failure, see Adams D, Starship Titanic):

Tanya Anderson v the RIAA et al, which has just the other day requested
class-action status, could be a worthy successor in our shared exploration of
how various miscreants attempt to abuse the legal process.

I'm sure everyone is aware of the case itself by now. But in this latest filing
Lybeck Murphy LLP explain, quite eloquently, that they are now "loaded for
bear" - and the RIAA and their (alleged) fellow conspirators look
distinctly ursine!!! <grin>

http://www.ilrweb.com/viewILRPDF.asp?filename=andersen_riaa_070816AmendedComplai
nt

It really does stand up there with the most entertaining responses from the fine
lawyers at IBM and Novell.

And if even a tenth of what it alleges (and much of it has already been publicly
admitted by the Recording Industry Ass. of America) this one could run and run.

The fight doesn't end when SCO does!

[ Reply to This | # ]

I really worry about the ISO process...
Authored by: itchytweed on Friday, August 17 2007 @ 08:31 PM EDT
There are times where I really worry about the ISO process. Having standards are
useful. It allows for interoperability, reliability, and adaptability. From
there, these standards can be modified and improved on. Problem is that when a
proposed standard is a locked-down, closed standard, such as OOXML, you can't
interoperate because the standard is closed and you have to kowtow before using
it. No thanks. I will stay away. I am glad to see that there is now some strong
fighting back occuring, at least in Europe. If you want to kill the fighting
back here in the states and get your "standard" passed and quash the
oppostion, just pass out some simoleons under the table or via the "smoke
filled room".

Me, right now, ISO ISO 3103.

-- Itchytweed

[ Reply to This | # ]

A humble proposal
Authored by: gdt on Saturday, August 18 2007 @ 07:23 PM EDT

ISO needs to improve its procedures or it will become irrelevant to technology. If all it takes is money and time to make a vendor specification an international standard, then what use are international standards?

I propose we assist ISO in creating an environment for this change by placing on the JTC1 Fast Track a proposal for a new integrated system of measurement -- the inch :-)

Sure it conflicts with ISO's own system of measurement, but that shouldn't be a problem given the precedent being set with DIS 29500.

[ Reply to This | # ]

It seems removal of this chairman is the only option
Authored by: Peter Baker on Tuesday, August 21 2007 @ 09:18 AM EDT
The events during this meeting show such an abuse of position and process, there
is no way anyone could invest any trust in future proceedings presented by a
chairman rather clearly showing a lack of personal integrity and an
overabundance of bias.

Having seen this happen is unbelievable in a country built on the principles of
collaboration and negotiation - this man seems unsuitable for his position.


---
= P =

[ Reply to This | # ]

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