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President of EU Academy for Standardisation criticizes OOXML, says duplicative standards conflict with WTO rules
Thursday, March 27 2008 @ 05:15 PM EDT

Here's a story I wasn't expecting, but some of you more familiar with WTO rules perhaps were, a story that the president of the European Academy for Standardisation, Tineke Egyedi, is critical of OOXML being made a standard when ODF exists already, and she believes duplicative standards conflict with WTO rules:
Egyedi, a researcher of technical standards, at the Technical University in Delft, the Netherlands, doubts whether ISO should have a taken into consideration a second standard for electronic documents at all. ISO approved the Open Document Format ODF in 2006, says Egyedi: "What are we to do with a second standard, which is overlapping the first? This conflicts with rules of the World Trade Organisation."

The standards specialist refers to the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, which states that duplication or overlap should be avoided.

Egyedi made her remarks last week, at the end of a public discussion on OOXML, she organised for students at her University. During the discussion, representatives of the Dutch government said that an approval by the ISO would not automatically make OOXML ready for use by the Dutch government. This would depend on whether or not OOXMl would be approved by a government commission that sets standards for public administration.

So you know what she is talking about, here's the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade agreement [PDF].


President of EU Academy for Standardisation criticizes OOXML, says duplicative standards conflict with WTO rules | 77 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections Thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Thursday, March 27 2008 @ 05:21 PM EDT
Please place corrections to the article, if any, here.

Suggest the correction in the Title: field of your post.


Form follows function.

[ Reply to This | # ]

[NP] News Picks discussion
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Thursday, March 27 2008 @ 05:24 PM EDT
Please discuss Groklaw News Picks here.

You can find the subjects for discussion in the News Picks. Here's the link:

Groklaw News Items for discussion.

Form follows function.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off TOpic Here
Authored by: DannyB on Thursday, March 27 2008 @ 05:26 PM EDT
SCO's CEO Darl McBride
In the press he repeatedly lied
"Linux stole our Eye Pee!"
"GPL'ed it for Free!"
But no evidence could he provide.

The price of freedom is eternal litigation.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Are two competing ISO standards even heard of before?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 27 2008 @ 05:31 PM EDT
"The standardizing body within the territory of a Member shall make every
effort to avoid duplication of, or overlap with, the work of other standardizing
bodies in the national territory or with the work of relevant international or
regional standardizing bodies. They shall also make every effort to achieve a
national consensus on the standards they develop. Likewise the regional
standardizing body shall make every effort to avoid duplication of, or overlap
with, the work of relevant international standardizing bodies."

This looks like the relevant part (pages 135-136), I guess. To me it it looks
like ISO is shooting itself in that famous foot. Why did they even consider two,
competing standards? Is it even heard of before?


IMANAL - I'm Absolutely Not A Lawyer (just didn't login)

[ Reply to This | # ]

OOXML does not do well
Authored by: dwheeler on Thursday, March 27 2008 @ 06:05 PM EDT
Hmm, OOXML does not seem to meet these requirements very well, as best as I can
tell. For example:

"2.1 Members shall ensure that in respect of technical regulations,
products imported from the territory
of any Member shall be accorded treatment no less favourable than that accorded
to like products of
national origin and to like products originating in any other country."
Yet OOXML is not practically implementable by any supplier; only one supplier
could reasonably implement it.

"2.2 Members shall ensure that technical regulations are not prepared,
adopted or applied with a
view to or with the effect of creating unnecessary obstacles to international
trade. For this purpose,
technical regulations shall not be more trade-restrictive than necessary to
fulfil a legitimate objective,
taking account of the risks non-fulfilment would create." OOXML is clearly
designed to limit trade on office software, since it prevents arbitrary
implementation of it. (Both technically - due to inadequate definition and
intentional incompatibility with other standards - and legally due to the
inadequate protections provided by its maker).

"2.4 Where technical regulations are required and relevant
international standards exist or their
completion is imminent, Members shall use them, or the relevant parts of them,
as a basis for their
technical regulations....". ODF already exists; so members should use it.

"12.2 Members shall give particular attention to the provisions of this
Agreement concerning developing
country Members' rights and obligations and shall take into account the special
development, financial
and trade needs of developing country Members in the implementation of this
Agreement, both nationally
and in the operation of this Agreement's institutional arrangements." Many
developing countries simply cannot afford to pay for Microsoft Office in massive
numbers; Office costs more than the average annual wage in some countries.
Requiring the use of a standard that can only be implemented realistically by a
single vendor, with such large costs, is nonsense. A standard should be
implementable by all - even organizations inside the developing country.
Several organizations have now made clear that Microsoft's legal declarations do
NOT give people the unambiguous right to implement OOXML. This makes no sense;
instead, use a standard that ANYONE can implement, without concern.

"Annex 3.H. The standardizing body within the territory of a Member
shall make every effort to avoid
duplication of, or overlap with, the work of other standardizing bodies in the
national territory or with
the work of relevant international or regional standardizing bodies." The
implication here is that duplication is bad, which is sensible; yet OOXML
duplicates ODF, except that OOXML is controlled by a single vendor (through the
Ecma rules that allow a single vendor to control the process).

Anyone see differently?

[ Reply to This | # ]

ANSI Standards for developing standards
Authored by: tce on Thursday, March 27 2008 @ 06:08 PM EDT
ANSI, American National Standards Institute, is the NB for the USA, and it delegates to INCITS for IT standards, including participation on behalf of the USA (via ANSI) for voting on ISO standards.

ANSI has a document library here:

Which, if you drill in far enough:
Documents/Standards Activities/ American National Standards/Procedures, Guides, and Forms/ 2008 ANSI Essential Requirements

You get this document: 2008 ANSI Essential Requirements

Described as: The 2008 ANSI Essential Requirements contains the procedural requirements to which all ANSI Accredited Standards Developers (ASDs) must comply when applying for accreditation and submitting documents for approval as American National Standards.

I believe INCITS would be an Accredited Standards Developer (ASD).

The ANSI Essential Requirements document is 26 pages of requirements (Says so right on the cover :-) for proper behavior by its ASD, and I have excerpted a couple of the first pages below. You can all find your favorite sections (I have mine!), and look at the rest of it too.

The question for the ANSI board is: What is your organizational, ethical (e.g. IEEE, ACM), and personal responsibility to assure that your requirements are met - for the good of your organization, your mission, the USA and global community, and your professional standing?

ANSI Essential Requirements: Due process requirements for American National Standards

1.0 Essential requirements for due process These requirements apply to activities related to the development of consensus for approval, revision, reaffirmation, and withdrawal of American National Standards (ANS). Due process means that any person (organization, company, government agency, individual, etc.) with a direct and material interest has a right to participate by: a) expressing a position and its basis, b) having that position considered, and c) having the right to appeal. Due process allows for equity and fair play. The following constitute the minimum acceptable due process requirements for the development of consensus.

1.1 Openness Participation shall be open to all persons who are directly and materially affected by the activity in question. There shall be no undue financial barriers to participation. Voting membership on the consensus body shall not be conditional upon membership in any organization, nor unreasonably restricted on the basis of technical qualifications or other such requirements.

1.2 Lack of dominance The standards development process shall not be dominated by any single interest category, individual or organization. Dominance means a position or exercise of dominant authority, leadership, or influence by reason of superior leverage, strength, or representation to the exclusion of fair and equitable consideration of other viewpoints.

1.3 Balance The standards development process should have a balance of interests. Participants from diverse interest categories shall be sought with the objective of achieving balance.

1.4 Coordination and harmonization Good faith efforts shall be made to resolve potential conflicts between and among existing American National Standards and candidate American National Standards.

1.5 Notification of standards development Notification of standards activity shall be announced in suitable media as appropriate to demonstrate an opportunity for participation by all directly and materially affected persons.

1.6 Consideration of views and objections Prompt consideration shall be given to the written views and objections of all participants, including those commenting on the PINS announcement or public comment listing in Standards Action.

1.7 Consensus vote Evidence of consensus in accordance with these requirements and the accredited procedures of the standards developer shall be documented.

1.8 Appeals Written procedures of an ANSI-Accredited Standards Developer (ASD) shall contain an identifiable, realistic, and readily available appeals mechanism for the impartial handling of procedural appeals regarding any action or inaction. Procedural appeals include whether a technical issue was afforded due process.

1.9 Written procedures Written procedures shall govern the methods used for standards development and shall be available to any interested person.

1.10 Compliance with normative American National Standards policies and administrative procedures All ANSI-Accredited Standards Developers (ASDs) are required to comply with the normative policies and administrative procedures established by the ANSI Executive Standards Council or its designee.

2.0 Benchmarks This section contains information relative to the implementation of the Essential Requirements set forth in Section 1.0 of this document and articulates the normative policies and administrative procedures associated with the ANS process.

2.1 Openness Timely and adequate notice of any action to create, revise, reaffirm, or withdraw a standard, and the establishment of a new consensus body shall be provided to all known directly and materially affected interests. Notice should include a clear and meaningful description of the purpose of the proposed activity and shall identify a readily available source for further information. In addition, the name, affiliation1 and interest category of each member of the consensus body shall be made available to interested parties upon request.

2.2 Lack of dominance Unless it is claimed in writing (including electronic communications) by a directly and materially affected party that a single interest category, individual or organization dominated the standards development process, no test for dominance is required.

2.3 Balance Historically the criteria for balance are that a) no single interest category constitutes more than one‑third of the membership of a consensus body dealing with safety-related standards or b) no single interest category constitutes a majority of the membership of a consensus body dealing with other than safety-related standards. The interest categories appropriate to the development of consensus in any given standards activity are a function of the nature of the standards being developed. Interest categories shall be discretely defined, cover all materially affected parties and differentiate each category from the other categories. Such definitions shall be available upon request. In defining the interest categories appropriate to a standards activity, consideration shall be given to at least the following: a) producer; b) user; c) general interest. Where appropriate, additional interest categories should be considered.2 Appropriate, representative user views shall be actively sought and fully considered in standards activities. Whenever possible, user participants shall be those with the requisite technical knowledge, but other users may also participate. User participation should come from both individuals and representatives of organized groups. There are several user categories:

1.User‑consumer: Where the standards activity in question deals with a consumer product, such as lawn mowers or aerosol sprays, an appropriate consumer participant’s view is considered to be synonymous with that of the individual user – a person using goods and services rather than producing or selling them. 2.User‑industrial: Where the standards activity in question deals with an industrial product, such as steel or insulation used in transformers, an appropriate user participant is the industrial user of the product. 3.User‑government: Where the standards activity in question is likely to result in a standard that may become the basis for government agency procurement, an appropriate user participant is the representative of that government agency. 4.User-labor: Where the standards activity in question deals with subjects of special interest to the American worker, such as products used in the workplace, an appropriate user participant is a representative of labor.

2.4 Coordination and harmonization

Good faith efforts shall be made to resolve potential conflicts between and among existing American National Standards and candidate American National Standards.

2.4.1 Definition of Conflict

Conflict within the ANS process refers to a situation where, viewed from the perspective of a future implementer, the terms of one standard are inconsistent or incompatible with the terms of the other standard such that implementation of one standard under terms allowable under that standard would preclude proper implementation of the other standard in accordance with its terms.

2.4.2 Coordination/Harmonization

ANSI-Accredited Standards Developers shall make a good-faith effort to resolve potential conflicts and to coordinate standardization activities intended to result in harmonized American National Standards3. A “good faith” effort shall require substantial, thorough and comprehensive efforts to harmonize a candidate ANS and existing ANSs. Such efforts shall include, at minimum, compliance with all relevant sections of these procedures4. Developers shall retain evidence of such efforts in order to demonstrate compliance with this requirement to the satisfaction of the appropriate ANSI body.

2.5 Notification of standards development and coordination ....

[ Reply to This | # ]

Doubletalk Is Standard On All Versions Of Windows
Authored by: TheBlueSkyRanger on Thursday, March 27 2008 @ 06:29 PM EDT
Hey, everybody!

Am I the only one seeing something interesting here?

M$ took the computer world by storm with Win95, selling people on all kinds of
wonders and a good "Trust us" line.

What is happening now?

The M$ speak isn't working anymore. No one trusts Windows security. No one
trusts Windows DRM. No one trusts WGA. And now, no one trusts M$' definition
of open standards. Remember, there was nary a peep over RTF, which promoted
data interchange but M$ was fully the guardian of.

Has the world finally woken up to how important digital rights and digital
freedom are?

Dobre utka,
The Blue Sky Ranger

Oh, give me a phone, with a modem on loan....

[ Reply to This | # ]

Will the WTO listen to MS/US?
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 27 2008 @ 07:39 PM EDT
Slashdot has an interesting article regarding the fact that the US isn't
listening to or acting on rulings against it. See the stories here:

What will happen eventually? Will the WTO punish the US? Will they ignore the
US when MS pounds it's fists on the desk to demand that we pay for their
precious IP?

MS if you're reading this, you might want to encourage compliance with rulings
against the US in order to get your way.

[ Reply to This | # ]

President of EU Academy for Standardisation criticizes OOXML, says duplicative standards conflic
Authored by: PolR on Thursday, March 27 2008 @ 08:35 PM EDT
I am not familiar with WTO rules, so excuse me if the question sounds stupid.

Sure, if OOXML goes against WTO, this can be raised when lobbying governments.
But beside the argumentative value, what is the point? Are there any
consequences of ignoring a few WTO rules? If governments accept that OOXML is a
ISO standard and set their IT policy accordingly, will they face any downside?

Without some real teeth, WTO may just be a piece of paper that is followed when
convenient and ignored otherwise.

[ Reply to This | # ]

I wonder if Microsoft knew this
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 27 2008 @ 09:11 PM EDT
I can't help but show my cynical nature of Microsoft here. Could it be that this
is Microsoft's strategy? Could it be that Microsoft knew this before ODF became
a standard, and when it became apparent that ODF would become a standard,
Microsoft tried to get there first, but now wants to at any expense, so that
they can then get WTO organizations to adopt OOXML and then say, "Oh, look!
The WTO rules say you can only support one. We are already supported, therefore
you can't implement ODF!" Checkmate, end of game for ODF. Could this be
what they are planning, and have been all along?

I know, I'm a cynic and maybe paranoid. Proudly so.

[ Reply to This | # ]

President of EU Academy for Standardisation criticizes OOXML, says duplicative standards conflic
Authored by: Anonymous on Thursday, March 27 2008 @ 09:47 PM EDT
ISO standardizes both the C and C++ programming languages. Should we kill one
of those standards just because they overlap? (if so, let it be C++..)

[ Reply to This | # ]

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