[cabfpub] An observation and proposal on resolving IPR concerns

Ryan Sleevi sleevi at google.com
Mon Nov 7 19:40:05 UTC 2016

On Sun, Nov 6, 2016 at 1:10 PM, Eric Mill via Public <public at cabforum.org>

> Hi all,
> I'm a relative newcomer to the Forum, and the operator of neither a
> browser nor a CA, but I'll try to contribute something anyway. If it's not
> useful, I'll understand.
> Looking at just what's been shared on the public list, it appears that the
> Forum is in an existential crisis, and lacks a shared agreement on what its
> Bylaws say, and the resulting legal strength of current IPR guarantees
> around its ballots and work product.
> The subject matter is more complicated and legalistic than usual, and
> interpersonal tensions seem to be running higher than usual, which is
> combining to make it very difficult to understand the different
> perspectives people have and for this to remain a merit-based discussion.
> Gerv's done a great job tracking the pros/cons of the differing
> interpretations of the current bylaws, but it's seeming increasingly likely
> that neither side is going to be persuaded to accept the other's point of
> view. At that point, it doesn't matter who's right -- the Bylaws and IPR
> policy are a failure if the group can't agree on what they mean.
> It also seems very likely that if the current trajectory continues, the
> Forum could just dissolve, as one or more browsers leave over these
> disagreements. While perhaps another Forum might emerge, making the
> existing Forum work for its participants would likely result in a more
> stable and predictable outcome.
> So, while acknowledging that I lack the complete historical context and
> professional vantage point to fully adjudicate every specific point each
> side makes, it still seems to me that a productive path forward would be to:
> * Acknowledge that the existing Bylaws and IPR policy contain fatal
> ambiguities around IP review and balloting as it relates to published
> Guidelines.
> * Proceed to drafting one or more ballots that would amend the Bylaws
> and/or IPR policy to resolve these ambiguities.
> * While drafting these ballots, relevant parties should make a good-faith
> effort to distinguish between a policy they think is not good for the
> Forum, vs a policy that would make them unable to continue participating in
> the Forum.
> * Take a straw poll of all members on the proposed ballot(s), and then
> decide which one to put to a formal vote. Hopefully, at least one of them
> is acceptable to the Forum.
> While this won't make every core disagreement go away, it would at least
> remove disagreements over existing language, and focus the Forum on an
> acceptable (even if not ideal) IPR policy for all parties.
> This means abandoning ballots 180-182. It seems to me like they're going
> to be abandoned one way or the other, so it would be better to abandon them
> voluntarily and up front.
> No matter what, I hope all parties to the Forum will strive to remain
> positive and collaborative under stress, and to seek sustainable consensus
> over ephemeral victory.
Thanks for writing this, Eric, as we believe this is the vital set of steps
necessary for the Forum to move forward.
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