Patent flap slows multilingual domain name plan

From: Robert Harley (
Date: Thu Mar 29 2001 - 11:49:31 PST

Patent flap slows multilingual domain name plan

MINNEAPOLIS - Intellectual property claims have blindsided the
Internet Engineering Task Force and could derail the group's efforts
to develop a common scheme for supporting foreign-language domain
names across the Internet.


The IETF's Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) working group recently
discovered that an Ann Arbor, Mich., start-up named Walid received a
patent on Jan. 30 that appears to cover many aspects of the technical
solution developed by the working group.

This solution involves converting foreign language characters into
Unicode, a computer industry standard, and then encoding them in
U.S. ASCII for transmission over the Internet. It creates a
presentation layer to display domain names to end users in their
native languages. The advantage of this approach is that it requires
no changes to the DNS protocol or existing DNS servers.

Walid filed paperwork with the IETF claiming that it will seek
licensing fees "based on reciprocity" if this approach is adopted in
the group's final standard.

IETF officials last week asked Walid to reconsider and instead license
the patent for free to all interested parties. If not, the IETF will
likely scrap this approach and start over, which could make Walid's
patent worthless.



The patent is here:

It seems quite specific with DNS this, RFC1035 that, and even a claim
about adding a layer to Winsock 1.1!

... Grumble mumble obviousness wumble fumble...

Any prior art out there? (Apart from uuencode, MIME and similar :).


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