|Type||Global nonprofit consortium-501(c)(6)|
The Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards (OASIS; //) is a nonprofit consortium that works on the development, convergence, and adoption of open standards for cybersecurity, blockchain, Internet of things (IoT), emergency management, cloud computing, legal data exchange, energy, content technologies, and other areas.
OASIS was founded under the name "SGML Open" in 1993. It began as a trade association of Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) tool vendors to cooperatively promote the adoption of SGML through mainly educational activities, though some amount of technical activity was also pursued including an update of the CALS Table Model specification and specifications for fragment interchange and entity management.
In 1998, with the movement of the industry to XML, SGML Open changed its emphasis from SGML to XML, and changed its name to OASIS Open to be inclusive of XML and reflect an expanded scope of technical work and standards. The focus of the consortium's activities also moved from promoting adoption (as XML was getting much attention on its own) to developing technical specifications. In July 2000 a new technical committee process was approved. With the adoption of the process the manner in which technical committees were created, operated, and progressed their work was regularized. At the adoption of the process there were five technical committees; by 2004 there were nearly 70.
During 1999, OASIS was approached by UN/CEFACT, the committee of the United Nations dealing with standards for business, to jointly develop a new set of specifications for electronic business. The joint initiative, called "ebXML" and which first met in November 1999, was chartered for a three-year period. At the final meeting under the original charter, in Vienna, UN/CEFACT and OASIS agreed to divide the remaining work between the two organizations and to coordinate the completion of the work through a coordinating committee. In 2004 OASIS submitted its completed ebXML specifications to ISO TC154 where they were approved as ISO 15000.
The consortium has its headquarters in Burlington, Massachusetts, shared with other companies. On September 4, 2014, the consortium moved from 25 Corporate Drive Suite 103 to 35 Corporate Dr Suite 150, still on the same loop route.
The following standards are under development or maintained by OASIS technical committees:
Adhesion to the consortium requires some fees to be paid, which must be renewed annually, depending on the membership category adherents want to access. Among the adherents are members from American Bar Association, Collabora, Dell, EclecticIQ, General Motors, IBM, ISO/IEC, KDE e.V., Microsoft, Novell, Oracle, Red Hat, The Document Foundation, universities, government agencies, individuals and employees from other less-known companies.
Member sections are special interest groups within the consortium that focus on specific topics. These sections keep their own distinguishable identity and have full autonomy to define their work programme and agenda. The integration of the member section in the standardization process is organized via the technical committees.
Active member sections are for example:
Member sections may be completed when they have achieved their objectives. The standards that they promoted are then maintained by the relevant technical committees directly within OASIS. For example:
Like many bodies producing open standards e.g. ECMA, OASIS added a Reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing (RAND) clause to its policy in February 2005. That amendment required participants to disclose intent to apply for software patents for technologies under consideration in the standard. Contrary to the W3C, which requires participants to offer royalty-free licenses to anyone using the resulting standard, OASIS offers a similar Royalty Free on Limited Terms mode, along with a Royalty Free on RAND Terms mode and a RAND (reasonable and non-discriminatory) mode for its committees. Compared to W3C, OASIS is less restrictive regarding obligation to companies to grant a royalty-free license to the patents they own.
Controversy has rapidly arisen because this licensing was added silently and allows publication of standards which could require licensing fee payments to patent holders. This situation could effectively eliminate the possibility of free/open source implementations of these standards. Further, contributors could initially offer royalty-free use of their patent, later imposing per-unit fees, after the standard has been accepted.
On April 11, 2005, The New York Times reported IBM committed for free, all of its patents to the OASIS group. Larry Rosen, a software law expert and the leader of the reaction which rose up when OASIS quietly included a RAND clause in its policy, welcomed the initiative and supposed OASIS will not continue using that policy as other companies involved would follow. History proved him wrong, as that RAND policy has still not been removed and other commercial companies have not published such a free statement towards OASIS.
Patrick Gannon, president and CEO of OASIS from 2001 to 2008, minimized the risk that a company could take advantage of a standard to request royalties when it has been established: "If it's an option nobody uses, then what's the harm?".
Sam Hiser, former marketing lead of the now defunct OpenOffice.org, explained that such patents towards an open standard are counterproductive and inappropriate. He also argued that IBM and Microsoft were shifting their standardization efforts from the W3C to OASIS, in a way to leverage probably their patents portfolio in the future. Hiser also attributed this RAND change to the OASIS policy to Microsoft.
The RAND term could indeed theoretically allow any company involved to leverage their patent in the future. But that amendment was probably added in a way to attract more companies to the consortium, and encourage contributions from potential participants. Big actors like Microsoft could have indeed applied pressure and made a sine-qua-non condition to access the consortium, and possibly jeopardize/boycott the standard if such a clause was not present.
Doug Mahugh — while working for Microsoft (a promoter of Office Open XML, a Microsoft document format competing with OASIS's ISO/IEC 26300, i.e. ODF v1.0) — claimed that "many countries have expressed frustration about the pace of OASIS's responses to defect reports that have been submitted on ISO/IEC 26300 and the inability for SC 34 members to participate in the maintenance of ODF." However, Rob Weir, co-chair of the OASIS ODF Technical Committee noted that at the time, "the ODF TC had received zero defect reports from any ISO/IEC national body other than Japan". He added that the submitter of the original Japanese defect report, Murata Mokoto, was satisfied with the preparation of the errata. He also self-published a blog post blaming Microsoft of involving people to improve and modify the accuracy of ODF and OpenXML Wikipedia articles, trying to make ODF sound risky to adopt.