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Network Working Group                                        S. Bradner
Internet-Draft                                               Harvard U.
Editor                                                       March 2003

            Intellectual Property Rights in IETF Technology


Status of this Memo

   This document is an Internet-Draft and is subject to all provisions
   of Section 10 of RFC 2026.

   Internet-Drafts are working documents of the Internet Engineering
   Task Force (IETF), its areas, and its working groups.  Note that
   other groups may also distribute working documents as Internet-

   Internet-Drafts are draft documents valid for a maximum of six months
   and may be updated, replaced, or obsoleted by other documents at any
   time.  It is inappropriate to use Internet-Drafts as reference
   material or to cite them other than as "work in progress."

   The list of current Internet-Drafts can be accessed at

   The list of Internet-Draft Shadow Directories can be accessed at


   The IETF policies about intellectual property rights (IPR), such as
   patent rights, claimed relative to technologies developed in the IETF
   are designed to ensure that IETF working groups and participants have
   as complete information about any IPR constraints on a technical
   proposal as possible.  The policies are also intended to benefit the
   Internet community and the public at large, while respecting the
   legitimate rights of IPR holders.  This memo details the IETF
   policies concerning IPR related to technology worked on within the
   IETF. It also describes the objectives that the policies are designed
   to meet.  This memo updates RFC 2026 and with RFC XXXY, replaces RFC
   10 of RFC 2026. [ note to RFC editor - replace XXXY with number of

            Portions Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2002)

1. Introduction

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   It is becoming increasingly common for IETF working groups to have to
   deal with claims of intellectual property rights, such as patent
   rights, with regards to technology under discussion in the working
   group.  These claims can come at any point in the IETF process from
   before the first Internet Draft has been submitted to after a RFC has
   been published and the working group has been closed down.  The
   claims can come from people submitting technical proposals as
   Internet Drafts, on mailing lists or at meetings, from other people
   participating in the working group or from third parties who find out
   that the work is going or has gone on.  The claims can be based on
   granted patents or on patent applications.  In some cases IPR claims
   can be disingenuous, made to affect the standards process rather than
   to inform.

   RFC 2026 section 10 established three basic principles regarding the
   IETF dealing with claims of intellectual property rights:

   a/ the IETF will make no determination about the validity of any
      particular IPR claim
   b/ the IETF following normal processes can decide to use technology
      for which IPR claims have been made if it decides that such a use
      is warranted
   c/ in order for the working group and the rest of the IETF to have
      the information needed to make an informed decision about the use
      of a particular technology, all those contributing to, and/or
      otherwise participating in, the working group's discussions
      (whether in person,  or electronically via email, or via other
      means) must disclose the existence of any IPR claim of the
      participant, the participant's employer or others represented by
      the participant (if any) that they believe would be necessary to
      implement the technology required. by the specific I-Ds or RFCs
      under discussion by the working group, subject to the reasonable
      and personal knowledge of the person making the disclosure (no
      patent search is required).

   In the years since RFC 2026 was published there have been a number of
   times when the exact intent of Section 10 has been the subject of
   vigorous debate within the IETF community.  The aim of this document
   is to clarify various ambiguities in Section 10 of [RFC 2026] that
   led to these debates and to amplify the policy in order to clarify
   what the IETF is, or should be, doing.

   Section 2, 3 and 4 of this document address the intellectual property
   issues previously covered by Section 10 of RFC 2026. Section 5
   defines the terms used in this memo, and sections 6 thru 12 then
   explain the rationale for these provisions, including some of the
   clarifications that have been understood since the adoption of RFC
   2026.  The rules and procedures set out in this document are not

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   intended to substantially modify or alter the IETF's current policy
   toward IPR in the context of the IETF standards process. They are
   intended to clarify and fill in procedural gaps.

   A companion document [IETF SUB] deals with rights (such as copyrights
   and trademarks) in the documents that are submitted to the IETF,
   including the right of IETF and its participants to publish and
   create derivative works of those documents.  This document is not
   intended to address those issues.

   This document is not intended as legal advice.  Readers are advised
   to consult their own legal advisors if they would like a legal
   interpretation of their rights or the rights of the IETF in any
   contributions they make.

2. Contributions in the IETF

2.1.  General Policy
   In all matters of intellectual property rights, the intent is to
   benefit the Internet community and the public at large, while
   respecting the legitimate rights of others.

2.2.  Rights and Permissions

   All Contributions
   By submission of a contribution, each person actually submitting the
   contribution, and each named co-contributor, is deemed to agree to
   the following terms and conditions, on his/her own behalf, and on
   behalf of the organizations the contributor represents (if any) when
   submitting the contribution. If the contribution is an  Internet
   Draft this agreement must be acknowledged by including in the header
   of  the contribution one of the statements in section 3.2 of [IETF

   A. The contributor represents that he or she has disclosed the
      existence of any and all intellectual property rights which cover
      or may cover the technology, specifications or standards described
      in the contribution that (1) are owned, controlled or enforceable
      by the contributor or his or her employer, or any affiliate
      thereof, and (2) are personally and reasonably known to the
      contributor.  The contributor does not represent that he or she
      personally knows of all potentially pertinent intellectual
      property rights owned or claimed by the his or her employer (if
      any) or by third parties.

   B. The contributor represents that there are no limits to the
      contributor's ability to make the grants, acknowledgments and

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      agreements above that are personally and reasonably known to the

3. IETF Actions

   (A)  When any intellectual property are known, or claimed, with
      respect to any technology, specification, or standard described in
      an IETF document, and such intellectual property rights are
      brought to the attention of the IESG, the IESG shall not publish
      the IETF document without including in the document a note
      indicating the existence of such intellectual property rights, or
      claimed intellectual property rights.

   (B)  The IESG disclaims any responsibility for identifying the
      existence of or for evaluating the applicability of any claimed
      IPR to any IETF technology, specification or standard, and will
      take no position on the validity or scope of any such intellectual
      property claims.

   (C)  Where the IESG has been informed of claimed intellectual
      property rights under (A), the IETF Executive Director shall
      request from the claimant of such rights, a written assurance that
      upon approval by the IESG of the relevant specification(s), all
      persons will be able to obtain the  right to implement, use,
      distribute and exercise other rights with respect to an
      Implementing Technology under royalty-free terms or, if that is
      not available, under reasonable, non-discriminatory  terms unless
      such a statement has already been submitted. The Working Group
      proposing the use of the technology with respect to which the
      intellectual property rights are claimed may assist the IETF
      Executive Director in this effort.

      The results of this procedure shall not, in themselves, block
      advancement of a specification along the standards track.  A
      working group may take into consideration the results of this
      procedure in evaluating the technology and the IESG may defer
      approval when a delay may facilitate obtaining such assurances.
      The results will, however, be recorded by the IETF Executive
      Director, and be made available.  The IESG may also direct that a
      summary of the results be placed on- line.

3.1  Determination of Reasonable and Non-discriminatory Terms
   The IESG will not make any explicit determination that the assurance
   of reasonable and non-discriminatory terms for the use of an
   Implementing Technology has been fulfilled in practice.  It will
   instead use the normal requirements for the advancement of Internet
   Standards to verify that the terms for use are reasonable.  If the
   two unrelated implementations of the specification that are required

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   to advance from Proposed Standard to Draft Standard have been
   produced by different organizations or individuals or if the
   "significant implementation and successful operational experience"
   required to advance from Draft Standard to Standard has been achieved
   the IESG will presume that the terms are reasonable and to some
   degree, non-discriminatory.  Note that this also covers the case
   where multiple implementers have concluded that no licensing is
   required.  This presumption may be challenged at any time, including
   during the Last-Call period by sending email to the IESG.

4. Notices to be included in all contributions for publication

   The following notices will be added to all standards track RFCs by
   the RFC Editor.

   (A)  Disclaimer of validity:

         "The IETF takes no position regarding the validity or scope of
         any intellectual property or other rights that might be claimed
         to pertain to the implementation or use of the technology
         described in this document or the extent to which any license
         under such rights might or might not be available; nor does it
         represent that it has made any independent effort to identify
         any such rights. Information on the IETF's procedures with
         respect to rights in IETF documents can be found in RFC XX.
         [note to RFC Editor - replace XX with the number of this

         Copies of IPR statements made to the IETF Secretariat and any
         assurances of licenses to be made available, or the result of
         an attempt made to obtain a royalty-free license or permission
         for the use of such proprietary rights by implementers or users
         of this specification can be obtained from the IETF on-line IPR
         repository at http://www.ietf.org/ipr."

   (B)  The IETF encourages all interested parties to bring to its
      attention, at the earliest possible time, the existence of any
      intellectual property rights pertaining to Internet Standards. For
      this purpose, each standards document shall include the following

         "The IETF invites any interested party to bring to its
         attention any copyrights, patents or patent applications, or
         other proprietary rights which may cover technology that may be
         required to practice this standard.  Please address the
         information to the IETF Secretariat at iesg-

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5. Definitions

5.1 contribution: in the context of this memo, a contribution to the
   IETF is any submission intended by the contributor for publication as
   an Internet Draft or RFC and any statements made within the context
   of an IETF process. Such statements include verbal statements in IETF
   meetings, as well as written and electronic communications made at
   any time or place, which are addressed to
   o  the IETF plenary session,
   o  any IETF working group or portion thereof,
   o  the IESG, or any member thereof on behalf of the IESG,
   o  the IAB or any member thereof on behalf of the IAB,
   o  any IETF mailing list, including the IETF list itself, any working
      group or design team list, or any other list functioning under
      IETF auspices,
   o  the RFC Editor or the Internet-Drafts function

5.2  IETF document: RFCs and Internet-Drafts.

5.3  IPR or intellectual property rights: means any proprietary,
   intellectual or industrial property rights, including, but not
   limited to, patent, copyright, trade secret, design, utility model,
   invention registration, database and data rights, whether such rights
   arise from a registration or renewal thereof, or an application
   therefore, in each case anywhere in the world.

5.4  Implementing Technology: means a technology which implements an
   IETF specification or standard.

6.  Disclosures

   This section discusses who must make disclosures, how to make a
   disclosure, what a disclosure must include and when disclosures must
   be made.

6.1  Who must make a disclosure?

6.1.1  IPR claimed by contributors to the IETF
   Anyone who contributes text, ideas, or technology to the IETF that
   includes IPR which meets the conditions in section 6.6 and that is
   personally and reasonably known to the contributor must disclose the

   This requirement specifically includes contributions that are made by
   any means including electronic or spoken comments. A disclosure
   should also be made if the revised contribution negates a previous
   IPR disclosure.

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   Contributors must disclose IPR claims meeting the description in this
   section, there are no exceptions to this rule.

6.1.2. IPR claimed in contributions by others
   Anyone who is participating in an IETF discussion about someone
   else's contribution which the individual believes includes IPR
   meeting the conditions of section 6.6 must make an IPR disclosure.
   Failure to provide such a disclosure is subject to the restrictions
   described in section 8.

6.1.3. IPR claims known by a third party
   Under section 4(B) of this document third parties that have
   information about IPR claims of others that may cover IETF
   contributions are encouraged to notify the IETF by sending an email
   message to iesg-secretary@ietf.org.  Such a notice should be sent as
   soon as possible after the third party realizes the connection.  A
   third party is defined as someone who knows of IPR claims but who
   does not meet the conditions in section 6.6.

6.2.  The timing of providing disclosure
   Timely IPR disclosure is important because working groups need to
   have as much information as they can while they are evaluating
   alternative solutions.

6.2.1 Timing of disclosure about a contribution described in section
   The person or the organization which claims the IPR must submit an
   IPR disclosure at the same time that the contribution is made unless
   there is already a disclosure on file which will cover the claim and
   the new contribution. For example, if the contribution is an update
   to one for which an IPR disclosure has already been made and the
   applicability of the disclosure is not changed by the new
   contribution, then no new disclosure is required.  But if the
   contribution is a new one or is one which changes an existing
   contribution such that the revised contribution would be covered by
   new or different IPR claims then a disclosure must be made.

   If a contributor learns of IPR claims that meet the requirements of
   section 6.6, for example a new patent application or the discovery of
   a relevant patent in a patent portfolio, after the submission of a
   contribution, a disclosure must be made by the contributor or the IPR
   claimant as soon as reasonably possible after learning of the IPR

6.2.2 Timing of disclosure about a contribution described in section
   The disclosure must be made as soon as reasonably possible after the
   IPR claims become personally and reasonably known to the IETF

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6.3  How must a disclosure be made?
   IPR disclosures are made by sending an email message to iesg-
   secretary@ietf.org.  It is also a good idea to send a copy of the
   disclosure to the mailing list of the relevant working group.

   6.4  What must be in a disclosure?
   The disclosure should list the numbers of any issued or published
   patents and indicate whether the claim is based on unpublished patent
   applications.  The disclosure should also list the specific IETF
   documents or activity affected.  An Internet-Draft must be referenced
   by specific version number.  In addition, if an Internet-Draft
   includes multiple parts and it is not reasonably apparent which part
   of such Internet-Draft is alleged to be covered by the claims of a
   disclosed patent or patent application, the discloser should identify
   the sections of the Internet-Draft that are alleged to be so covered.

   If a disclosure was made on the basis of a patent application then a
   new disclosure must be made when the patent is granted or denied.
   The new disclosure must include the patent number and, if the granted
   patent differs from the application, must state any differences in
   applicability to the IETF work.

   Note that the requirement for an IPR disclosure is not satisfied by
   the inclusion of a blanket statement of possible IPR on every
   contribution.  This is the case because the aim of the disclosure
   requirement is to provide information about specific IPR claims
   against specific technology under discussion in the IETF.  The
   requirement is also not satisfied by a blanket statement of
   willingness to license all potential IPR under fair and non-
   discriminatory terms for the same reason.  The requirement for an IPR
   disclosure is met by a blanket statement of the availability of
   royalty-free licensing of any possible essential IPR.

6.5  What rights must be detailed in a disclosure?
   Since IPR disclosures will be used by IETF working groups during
   their evaluation of alternative technical solutions, an IPR
   disclosure should include information about licensing of the IPR in
   case implementation of the technology described in the final RFC is
   judged to require a license.  Specifically, it should indicate
   whether, upon approval by the IETF of the relevant Internet standards
   track specification(s), all persons will be able to obtain the right
   to implement, use, distribute and exercise other rights with respect
   to an Implementing Technology under royalty-free or openly specified,
   reasonable, non-discriminatory terms.

6.6  When is a disclosure required?

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   Except for third party disclosures (which are encouraged under
   section 6.1.3), disclosures are required whenever the IPR in question
   is owned or licensed, directly or indirectly, by the individual or
   his/her employer or sponsor (if any) or such persons otherwise have
   the right to license or enforce, and a license under any claims of
   the patent or patent application would be required to practice the
   technology disclosed in the IETF document.

6.7  Call for IPR disclosures
   Notwithstanding the above, an explicit "Call for IPR disclosures"
   must accompany a working group last call (if a working group Last-
   Call is used to judge working group consensus - see [RFC 2418]
   section 7.4) and an IETF Last-Call (See [RFC 2026] section 6.1.2.)
   where one is issued.  This "Call for IPR disclosures" is used to
   request that anyone who knows of relevant IPR let the Working Group
   or IESG (whichever issued the Last-Call) about the IPR.

7. What does "personally and reasonably known" mean?

   The phrase "personally and reasonably known" is used above.  It
   should be read to refer to something the individual knows personally
   or, because of the job the individual holds, would reasonably be
   expected to know.  This wording is used to indicate that an
   organization cannot purposely keep an individual in the dark about
   patents or patent applications just to avoid the disclosure
   requirement.  But this requirement should not be interpreted as
   requiring the IETF contributor or participant (or his or her
   represented organization, if any) to perform a patent search to find
   applicable IPR.

8.  Failure to provide notice

   There are cases where individuals are not permitted by their
   employers or by other factors to disclose the existence or substance
   of patent applications or other IPR claims.  Since disclosure is
   required for anyone submitting documents or participating in IETF
   discussions, a person who does not disclose IPR claims for this, or
   any other reason, must not participate in these IETF activities with
   respect to technologies that he or she personally and reasonably
   knows to be covered by an IPR claim which he or she is not permitted
   to disclose.  Participating in IETF discussions about a technology
   without disclosing relevant IPR that is personally and reasonably
   known to the individual is a violation of IETF process.

9. Evaluating alternative technologies in IETF working groups

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   In general, IETF working groups prefer technologies with no known IPR
   claims or, for technologies with claims against them, an offer of
   royalty-free licensing. But IETF working groups have the discretion
   to adopt technology with a commitment of fair and non-discriminatory
   terms, or even with no licensing commitment, if they feel that this
   technology is superior enough to alternatives with fewer IPR claims
   or free licensing to outweigh the potential cost of the licenses.

   Over the last few years the IETF has adopted stricter requirements
   for some security technologies.  It has become common to have a
   mandatory-to-implement security technology in IETF technology
   specifications.  This is to ensure that there will be at least one
   common security technology present in all implementations of such a
   specification that can be use in all cases.  This does not limit the
   specification from including other security technologies, the use of
   which could be negotiated between implementations.  An IETF consensus
   has developed that no mandatory-to-implement security should be
   specified in an IETF specification unless it has no known IPR claims
   against it or a royalty-free license is available to implementers of
   the specification unless there is a very good reason to do so.  This
   limitation does not extend to other security technologies in the same
   specification if they are not listed as mandatory-to- implement.

   It should also be noted that the absence of IPR disclosures is not
   the same thing as the knowledge that there will be no IPR claims in
   the future.  People or organizations not currently involved in the
   IETF. People or organizations that discover IPR they feel to be
   relevant in their patent portfolios can make IPR claims at any time.

   It should also be noted that the validity and enforceability of any
   IPR may be challenged for legitimate reasons, and the mere existence
   of an IPR claim should not automatically be taken to mean that the
   underlying IPR is valid and enforceable.  Although the IETF can make
   no actual determination of validity or applicability of any
   particular IPR claim, it is reasonable that a working group will rely
   on their own opinions of the applicability or validity of
   intellectual property rights in their evaluation of alternative

   10.  Change control for technologies

   The IETF must have change control over the technology described in
   any standards track documents in order to fix problems that may be
   discovered or to produce other derivative works.  Submissions to the
   IETF in which the submitters do not grant change control to the IETF
   must include the appropriate Internet Draft statement from [IETF SUB]
   section 3.2.

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   In some cases the developer of patented or otherwise controlled
   technology may decide to hand over to the IETF the right to evolve
   the technology (a.k.a "change control").  The implementation of an
   agreement between the IETF and the developer of the technology can be
   complex. (See [RFC 1790] and [RFC 2339] for examples.)

   Note that an IETF standards track document can make normative
   reference to proprietary technology in some cases, for example, when
   making parameter assignments or encapsulations.  (e.g., "parameter
   value 1234 refers to proprietary technology A" or "proprietary
   technology B can be encapsulated using the techniques described in
   RFC XYZ.")

11. Licensing requirements to advance standards track documents

   [RFC 2026] section 4.1.2 states: "If patented or otherwise controlled
   technology is required for implementation, the separate
   implementations must also have resulted from separate exercise of the
   licensing process."  A key word in this text is "required."  The mere
   existence of an IPR claim does not necessarily mean that licenses are
   actually required in order to implement the technology.  Section
   3.3.3 of this document should be taken to cover the case where there
   are multiple implementations and but none of the implementers have
   felt that they needed to license the technology and there have are no
   indications that the IPR claimant will try to enforce its claim.

12.  Mention of IPR claims in IETF documents

   Submissions to the IETF where there are known IPR claims must include
   the appropriate text from section 4 above. They should not contain
   any mention of specific claims.  All specific IPR disclosures must be
   submitted as described in section 6.  Specific IPR disclosures should
   not be in the affected documents because the reader could be mislead.
   The inclusion of a particular IPR claim in an IETF document could be
   interpreted to mean that the IETF has formed an opinion on the
   validity of the IPR claim.  The reader could also be mislead to think
   that the included IPR claims are the only IPR claims the IETF has
   received concerning the document. Readers should always refer to the
   on-line web page to get a full list of IPR claims and disclosures
   received by the IETF.

13.  Security Considerations

   This memo relates to IETF process, not any particular technology.
   There are security considerations when adopting any technology,
   whether IPR- protected or not.  A working group should take those
   security considerations into account as one part of evaluating the
   technology, just as IPR is one part, but they are not issues of

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   security with IPR procedures.

14. References

14.1 Normative references

   [RFC 2026] Bradner, S. (ed), "The Internet Standards Process --
      Revision 3", RFC 2026, October 1996

   [RFC 2418] Bradner, S. (ed), "Working Group Guidelines and
      Procedures", RFC 2518, September 1998

   [IETF SUB] work in progress: draft-iprwg-submission-00.txt

15.  Acknowledgements

   The editor would like to acknowledge the help of the IETF ipr Working
   Group and, in particular the help of Jorge Contreras of Hale and Dorr
   for his careful legal reviews of this and other IETF IPR-related and
   process documents.  The editor would also like to thank Valerie See
   for her extensive comments and suggestions.

16. Editors Address

   Scott Bradner
   Harvard University
   29 Oxford St.
   Cambridge MA, 02138

   sob@harvard.edu +1 617 495 3864

17. Full copyright statement:

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2003).  Except as set forth
   below, authors retain all their rights.

   This document and translations of it may be copied and furnished to
   others, and derivative works that comment on or otherwise explain it
   or assist in its implementation may be prepared, copied, published
   and distributed, in whole or in part, without restriction of any
   kind, provided that the above copyright notice and this paragraph are
   included on all such copies and derivative works.  However, this
   document itself may not be modified in any way, such as by removing
   the copyright notice or references to the Internet Society or other
   Internet organizations, except as needed for the  purpose of
   developing Internet standards in which case the procedures for rights
   in submissions defined in the Internet Standards process must be
   followed, or as required to translate it into languages other than

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   The limited permissions granted above are perpetual and will not be
   revoked by the Internet Society or its successors or assigns.

   This document and the information contained herein is provided on an

18. change log

   (note to RFC Editor - remove this section prior to publication)

   version 00 to version 01

   sec 1 b - add "following normal processes"
   sec 1 c - reword
   sec 2.2.1 - add "if the contribution is an Internet Draft"
   sec 6 - largely reworked
   sec 6.7 - added call for IPR with WG & IETF last calls
   sec 7 - add "or participates in a working group discussion" .br sec 8
   - add "or other factors"
   sec 14 - redo security considerations
   sec 15 - added acknowledgements
   sec 18 - added change log

   version 01 to version 02

   fix miscellaneous typos throughout document
   swap personally and reasonably
   change "IPR claim" to "IPR disclosure" a number of places
   abstract - note update of rfc 2026
   sec 1 - remove ISOC
   sec 1(c) - reword -  remove implication disclose of 3rd party IPR
   sec 2.2.1 - reword - remove 3rd party IPR holders
   sec 3 (C) - added royalty-free - removed "standards track"
        remove text about implementations      did not add "implicit"
   because that is just what the IESG is doing      remove "openly
   sec 3.1 - added note about no licensing case
   sec 4 - change so RFC Editor adds IPR statements      tweak 4(A) so
   4(C) could be removed & make it generic to      IETF documents
   sec 5.1 & 5.2 - included definitions from copyright ID

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   sec 6.1.1 - last sentence - reword
   sec 6.2.1 - append sec 6.2.3
   sec 6.2.2 - reword
   sec 6.3.1 - tweak wording
   sec 6.4 - replace - add royalty-free      add granted patent
   sec 6.5 1st pp - replace - add royalty-free      remove example
   sec 6.6 - replace
   sec 7 - tweak last sentence
   sec 9 - tweak wording add security RF requirement
   sec 14.2 - remove unneeded references

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