RSA removes patent block to SAML uptake

Sun support

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

RSA Security Inc yesterday said it will grant royalty-free licenses to any developer that wants to use the Securities Assertions Markup Language (SAML) in their products. The company revealed last month that it has two US patents it believes cover aspects of the XML access control standard.

The only caveat RSA is imposing on the royalties is that any other companies which claim to have intellectual property covering parts of SAML must also grant RSA a royalty-free license to use their technology.

No other company has yet to disclose an IP interest in any other parts of SAML, but should one come forward, RSA's terms leave it open for them to levy royalties against firms other than RSA.

Also, any developer that makes an SAML product using tools from companies that have licensed from RSA, must also license from RSA under the same royalty-free terms, so RSA can keep track of where its IP is being used.

The patents in question are 6,085,320 and 6,189,098, both entitled "Client/Server Protocol for Proving Authenticity". RSA disclosed the patents after a direct request from the SAML working group, part of the OASIS XML interoperability group

Eve Maler, one of Sun Microsystems Inc's engineers in the working group, said the RSA patents "appear to be essential to the implementation of the SAML specification." She added that RSA's decision to go royalty-free is a good one for the encouraging uptake of standards in the emerging digital identity space.

Sun is to support SAML in its Sun ONE Platform for Network Identity server, and industry talk has it that SAML will also be central to the Sun-led Liberty Alliance Project. Liberty is the non-Microsoft answer to Passport, a set of standards for open, federated single sign-on authentication.

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