Khronos Frequently Asked Questions

Licensing and Trademarks

Please provide more information about section 5.3 of the IP Rights Policy located in the Khronos Membership Agreement

Clause 5.3 is to encourage members with knowledge of Necessary Claims to file an IP Disclosure for the information of the working group -  though that IP will not be licensed in any case because of the Working Group Exclusion certificate.
  Furthermore:

     
  • it is advantageous to a working group if that member has actual knowledge of essential claims that will not be licensed under the Khronos standard reciprocal license, that the working group be notified of that fact through an IP Disclosure Certificate.  Hence the existence of Clause 5.3.
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  • all Khronos Confidential information for all working groups is made accessible to all members, regardless of any working group exclusions, at least in part for the above reason
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  • however - as per section 3.3 of Attachment A - a member is NOT obligated to proactively search their IP portfolios:  "Members are not required to conduct searches of their patent portfolios, nor are they required to disclose Necessary Patent Claims of other Members or other third party patents"
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  • So, a member that excludes from particular working group is under no obligation to monitor any activities or drafts from those excluded working groups, nor to check drafts from the excluded working groups against their IP Portfolio.  And in any case, the excluded member will not have any IP Licensing obligations for any ratified specifications from an excluded working group.

 

In the case of reciprocal licenses, how often do member companies submit exclusion certificates and disclosure certificates? It would seem that if these are provided in large quantities by the large companies that comprise your membership, there would be many exclusions on licensing that would be difficult to sort out for other member companies interested in adopting the standard.

Yes – however the good news is that IP Disclosure (exclusion) certificates are used extremely rarely. In the whole history of Khronos, over 10 years with 14 active working groups each Ratifying multiple specifications, only 5 IP Disclosure Certificates have ever been issued.

There are a number of reasons for this - and we are happy to discuss any of this in more detail:

  • the Khronos members, in general, participate in Khronos because of a belief in the power of royalty-free standards to grow market opportunities;
  • the Khronos IP framework takes great care to define essential IP to very effectively protect members IP (while providing essential protection for the specifications in the industry) so members that participate in the reciprocal license are not “losing control” of their IP in any way;
  • the license is reciprocal – so any company licensing its essential IP – is in exchange receiving a license from 100 other member companies – and this is most often an attractive proposition.
It would appear that specific patent claims would have to be submitted contemporaneously with the submission of a contribution of patented technology for the purpose of consideration and adoption for inclusion in a spec. Is this reading correct?

The Khronos IP framework is constructed so that the default approach to IP (and the one used in the overwhelming majority of cases in practice) is that there is NO DISCLOSURE NECESSARY (sec 3.2 of Attachment A – the IP Rights Policy) for essential IP that can be licensed under the default reciprocal license. The IP Rights Policy provides for two types of explicit IP Disclosure:

  • IP Disclosure for IP that will NOT be licensed in relation to relation to a draft specification (sec A.3.3);
  • Reciprocal License Certificate to explicitly offer IP under license (perhaps to be used to reassure a working group to integrate patented technology) (sec A.6).
How does Khronos treat information that a member company submits about how that company uses OpenGL, and why that company may want to add (or prevent subtraction of) certain features? Is it treated as confidential information, and if so, is the company deemed to have waived confidentiality if the information is used in the development of the standard?

All information generated in association with Khronos business and circulated within Khronos is confidential (sec 4.1 of the membership agreement). If a contribution from a member is directly incorporated into a specification then that confidentiality is waived on Ratification (last sentence of sec 4.1). However, general comments and feedback related to a specification and not directly integrated into the specification itself would remain confidential.

SGI still has the trademark rights of OpenGL. Is the Khronos Group allowed to use this trademark with the permission of SGI?

Yes. The OpenGL trademark agreement is informal. The Khronos Group are in discussions with SGI to allow Khronos run an OpenGL Conformance program.

Is SGI a Khronos Group member?

No.

What is the relationship between SGI and Khronos Group?

SGI is not a member of the Khronos Group. Khronos licenses the OpenGL ES trademark from SGI. Khronos is authorized to run the OpenGL ES adopter program.

Can we get a membership to use code within our company, and not be involved in submitting code back to Khronos?

Khronos Ratified specifications are publicly available on the Khronos Web-site.  If your company wishes to use Khronos trademarks for conformant implementations of APIs, then the Adopters’ Agreement, along with applicable payment, provides access to the testing procedure and provides a trademark license.

Can our customer use the patents related to the Khronos technologies under a royalty-free license?

There are two ways which an individual or company can make use of the Khronos Technologies:

  1. Implementers - may create and deliver a product using the publicly released specifications and patents related to the Khronos technologies under a royalty-free license. But they cannot claim the product is “compliant” or if it is a software or hardware engine, they cannot advertise it using technology logos or trademarks. The Implementor option carries no cost or license fees.
  2. Adopters -  can download and run the conformance tests and if the implementation passes, they can advertise and promote the product as being compliant; using the technology logos and trademarks under a royalty-free license.
Our group is developing a graphics chip which complies with one of the public Khronos technologies. We would like to sell these chips to our customer. Can our customer use technology logos and trademarks under a royalty-free license?

Only if that product has been submitted to the Khronos Conformance Test Process.  Any product must be submitted to the Conformance Process before the technology trademark can be used on that product (fee schedules can be found here).  Any company can become an Adopter Member and submit the test results for a product.  Once passed - any company that uses that product, may use the technology trademark when related to the product.

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