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Network Working Group                                        S. Bradner
Internet-Draft                                               Harvard U.
Editor                                                       April 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, relative to technologies developed in the IETF are
   designed to ensure that IETF working groups and participants have as
   much 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 Section 10 of
   RFC 2026.  [note to RFC editor - replace XXXY with number of IETF

                 Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2003)

1. Introduction

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   In the years since RFC 2026 was published there have been a number of
   times when the exact intent of Section 10, the section which deals
   with IPR disclosures has been the subject of vigorous debate within
   the IETF community.  This is because it is becoming increasingly
   common for IETF working groups to have to deal with claims of
   intellectual property rights (IPR), such as patent rights, with
   regards to technology under discussion in working groups.  The aim of
   this ID 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.

   IPR disclosures can come at any point in the IETF process, e.g.,
   before the first Internet-Draft has been submitted, prior to RFC
   publication, or after an RFC has been published and the working group
   has been closed down; they 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; and they can be
   based on granted patents or on patent applications, and in some cases
   be disingenuous, i.e., 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 disclosures 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 the working
      group's discussions must disclose the existence of any IPR claim
      that covers the technology under discussion.  This applies to both
      contributors and other participants, and applies whether they
      contribute in person, via email or by other means.  The
      requirement covers all IPR of the contributor, the contributor's
      employer, sponsor, or others represented by the contributors, that
      is reasonably and personally known to the person submitting the
      disclosure.  No patent search is required.

   Sections 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 document, and sections 6
   thru 12 then explain the rationale for these provisions, including
   some of the clarifications that have been made since the adoption of
   RFC 2026.  The rules and procedures set out in this document are not

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   intended to 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 or her own behalf, and on
   behalf of the organizations the contributor represents (if any) when
   submitting the Contribution.

   A. The Contributor represents that he or she has made all disclosures
      required by Section 6.1.1 of this document.

   B. The Contributor represents that there are no limits to the
      Contributor's ability to make the grants, acknowledgments and
      agreements herein that are personally and reasonably known to the

   C. If the contribution is an Internet-Draft this agreement must be
      acknowledged, by including in the "Status of this Memo" section on
      the first page of the contribution, one of the statements in
      Section 3.2 of [IETF SUB].

3. IETF Actions

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   (A)  When any intellectual property is disclosed, with respect to any
      technology, specification, or standard described in an IETF
      document in the manner set forth in sec 6 of this document, the
      IESG shall require that the document has a note indicating the
      existence of such claimed intellectual property rights.

   (B)  The IESG disclaims any responsibility for identifying the
      existence of or for evaluating the applicability of any IPR,
      disclosed or otherwise, 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 intellectual property rights have been disclosed as
      provided in Section 6 of this document, the IETF Executive
      Director shall request from the discloser of such rights, a
      written assurance that upon approval by the IESG for publication
      as RFCs of the relevant IETF specification(s), all persons will be
      able to obtain the  right to implement, use, distribute and
      exercise other rights with respect to Implementing Technology
      under one of the licensing options specified in section 6.5 below
      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 disclosed may assist the IETF
      Executive Director in this effort.

      The results of this procedure shall not, in themselves, block
      advancement of a specification or document 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 online.

3.1  No 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 apply the normal requirements for the advancement of Internet
   Standards.  If the two unrelated implementations of the specification
   that are required 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.

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4. Notice to be included in RFCs

   The following notice will be added by the RFC Editor to all standards
   track RFCs and to all other RFCs for which an IPR disclosure has been

   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  and RFC XY.  [note to RFC
      Editor - replace XX with the number of this document and replace
      XY with number of IETF SUB.]

      Copies of IPR disclosures made to the IETF Secretariat and any
      assurances of licenses to be made available, or the result of an
      attempt made to obtain a general 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/.

      The IETF invites any interested party to bring to its attention
      any copyrights, patents or patent applications, or other
      proprietary rights that may cover technology that may be required
      to implement this standard.  Please address the information to the
      IETF at ietf-ipr@ietf.org."

5. Definitions

"Contribution": in the context of this document, a contribution to the
   IETF is any submission intended by the contributor for publication as
   an Internet-Draft, RFC or any statements made within the context of
   an IETF process.  Such statements include oral 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

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   Statements made outside of an IETF meeting, mailing list or other
   function, that are clearly not intended to be input to an IETF
   activity, group, or function, are not considered to be Contributions
   in the context of this document.

"Contributors": individuals submitting Contributions

"IETF Document": RFCs and Internet-Drafts.

"IPR" or "intellectual property rights": means patent, copyright,
   utility, model, invention registration, database and data rights may
   Cover an Implementing Technology, whether such rights arise from a
   registration or renewal thereof, or an application therefore, in each
   case anywhere in the world.

"Implementing Technology": means a technology that implements an IETF
   specification or standard.

"Reasonably and personally known": means something an 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.

"Covers" or "Covered" mean that a valid claim of a patent or a patent
   application in any jurisdiction or a protected claim, or any other
   intellectual property right, would necessarily be infringed by the
   exercise of a right (e.g., making, using, selling, importing,
   distribution, copying, etc) with respect to an Implementing

6.  IPR Disclosures

   This section discusses aspects of an obligations associated with IPR

6.1  Who must make an IPR disclosure?

6.1.1  A Contributor's IPR in his or her Contribution
   Any Contributor who reasonably and personally knows of IPR meeting
   the conditions of Section 6.6 which the Contributor believes Covers
   or may ultimately Cover his or her Contribution, or which the
   Contributor reasonably and personally knows his or her employer or

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   sponsor intends to enforce against Implementing Technologies based on
   such Contribution, must make a disclosure in accordance with this
   Section 6.

   This requirement specifically includes Contributions that are made by
   any means including electronic or spoken comments.  An IPR disclosure
   should also be made if a revised Contribution negates a previous IPR

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

6.1.2. An IETF Participant's IPR in Contributions by others
   Any individual participating in an IETF discussion who reasonably and
   personally knows of IPR meeting the conditions of Section 6.6 which
   the individual believes Covers or may ultimately Cover a Contribution
   made by another person, or which such IETF participant reasonably and
   personally knows his or her employer or sponsor intends to assert
   against Implementing Technologies based on such Contribution, must
   make a disclosure in accordance with this Section 6.

6.1.3. IPR of Others
   If a person has information about IPR that may cover IETF
   Contributions, and such IPR does not meet the requirements of Section
   6.6 as to such person, such persons are encouraged to notify the IETF
   by sending an email message to ietf-ipr@ietf.org.  Such a notice
   should be sent as soon as possible after the person realizes the

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 under section 6.1.1
   The Contributor or his or her employer or sponsor (if any) or other
   organization holding the rights to IPR, must submit an IPR disclosure
   as soon as reasonably possible after the Contribution is made unless
   there is already an IETF IPR disclosure by such person(s) on file
   that covers the Contribution.  For example, if the Contribution is an
   update to a Contribution 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 that changes an existing
   Contribution such that the revised Contribution is no longer Covered
   by the disclosed IPR or would be Covered by new or different IPR,
   then a disclosure must be made.

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   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 his
   employer or sponsor or other organization holding rights in the IPR
   as soon as reasonably possible after the IPR becomes reasonably and
   personally known to the Contributor.

6.2.2 Timing of disclosure under section 6.1.2
   The disclosure must be made as soon as reasonably possible after the
   IPR becomes reasonably and personally known to the IETF participant.

6.3  How must a disclosure be made?
   IPR disclosures are made by following the instructions at

   6.4  What must be in a disclosure?
   The disclosure must list the numbers of any issued or published
   patents or indicate that the claim is based on unpublished patent
   applications.  The disclosure must 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 IPR in
   question, 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 (either
   published or unpublished), a new disclosure must be made upon the
   publication of a previously unpublished patent application, the
   abandonment of the application and/or the issuance of a patent
   thereon.  The new disclosure must include the patent number and, if
   the claims of the granted patent differ from those of the application
   in manner material to the relevant IETF Contribution, such disclosure
   must describe any differences in applicability to the IETF

   Note that the requirement for an IPR disclosure is not satisfied by
   the submission 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 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.  However, the requirement for an IPR disclosure is
   satisfied by a blanket statement of the IPR discloser's willingness
   to license all its potential IPR meeting the requirements of section
   6.6 to implementers of an IETF specification on a royalty- free basis

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   and other fair and non-discriminatory terms.

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 Implementing Technologies require a license.  Specifically, it
   should indicate whether, upon approval by the IESG for publication as
   RFCs of the relevant Internet 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 a) under a
   royalty-free and otherwise reasonable and non-discriminatory license,
   or b) under a license that contains reasonable and non-discriminatory
   terms and conditions, including a reasonable royalty or other
   payment, or c) without the need to obtain a license from the IPR

6.6  Interest in IPR mandating disclosures
   IPR disclosures under sections 6.1.1. and 6.1.2 are required with
   respect to IPR that is owned directly or indirectly, by the
   individual or his/her employer or sponsor (if any) or that such
   persons otherwise have the right to license or assert.

7.  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.  Since disclosure is required
   for anyone submitting documents or contributing to IETF discussions,
   a person who does not disclose IPR for this, or any other reason,
   must not contribute to these IETF activities with respect to
   technologies that he or she reasonably and personally knows to be
   Covered by IPR which he or she is not permitted to disclose.
   Contributing to IETF discussions about a technology without making
   required IPR disclosures is a violation of IETF process.

8. Evaluating alternative technologies in IETF working groups

   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.

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   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

9.  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.  Contributions to
   the IETF in which the Contributors do not grant change control to the
   IETF must include the Internet-Draft statement which does not include
   the right to make derivative works from [IETF SUB] section 3.2.

   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

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   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.")

10. 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 disclosed IPR 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 none of the implementers have felt
   that they needed to license the technology and they have are no
   indications that any IPR claimant(s) will try to enforce their

11.  No IPR disclosures in IETF documents

   Contributions to the IETF that are subject to IPR disclosures should
   not contain any mention of specific IPR.  All specific IPR
   disclosures must be submitted as described in section 6.  Specific
   IPR disclosures should not be in the affected IETF documents because
   the reader could be misled.  The inclusion of particular IPR
   disclosure in an IETF document could be interpreted to mean that the
   IETF has formed an opinion on the validity of the IPR.  The reader
   could also be mislead to think that the included IPR disclosures are
   the only IPR disclosures the IETF has received concerning the IETF
   document.  Readers should always refer to the on-line web page to get
   a full list of IPR disclosures received by the IETF concerning any
   Contribution.  (http://www.ietf.org/ipr/)

12.  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
   security with IPR procedures.

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13.1 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

13.1 Informative references
   [RFC 1790] Cerf, V., "An Agreement between the Internet Society and
      Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the Matter of ONC RPC and XDR
      Protocols", RFC 1790, April 1995

   [RFC 2339] IETF & Sun Microsystems, "An Agreement Between the
      Internet Society, the IETF, and Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the
      matter of NFS V.4 Protocols", RFC 2339, May 1998

14.  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.

15. Editors Address

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

   sob@harvard.edu +1 617 495 3864

16. 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

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   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

   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

17. 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"

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   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
   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

   ver 02 to ver 03
   many editing changes throughout document
   generally changed "claim" to "disclosure"
   changed the disclosure email addresses and pointed to a web site for
   sec 2.2.1 A - removed detail - reference sec 6.1.1
   remove old sec 7
   sec 4 - added definition of covered      changed other text to use
   sec 5 - changed def of cover
   sec 6.1.1, 6.1.2 & 6.1.3 - reword

   open questions:      document process for ipr & document advancement

   ver 03 to ver 04

   a number of wording clarifications

   sec 6.4 2nd pp - removed note of need to state how new IPR applies
   because that is redundant with filing a new disclosure

Bradner                                                        [Page 14]

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