Yahoo! announced planned support for OpenID (as a OpenID provider) today. Thats thrilling news - congratulations to everyone at Yahoo! for taking the plunge. The timing, however, is not much of a surprise to me...
If anyone doubts the importance of an IPR policy for your grassroots community-driven open standards effort, this should be an important lesson. A group of us from the OpenID community worked for a number of months with a number of large organizations including Yahoo! to hammer out a OpenID IPR policy (and a lightweight community process to support the policy). That policy wasn't finally agreed to by the OIDF board until mid-December of 2007 (and the announcement on the OpenID site wasn't made until there were only 2 minutes left in 2007!). Without such a policy, large organizations such as Yahoo!, Microsoft, Sun (and a number of others) are not comfortable participating, especially with unclear rules about copyright and patents. While these companies have been itching to contribute to (and use) OpenID in a very community-positive manner, they simply haven't been able to without having a well-defined set of rules to play by. After all, it's the big pockets like them that get sued, not the 5 person startups and independent developers who have been the mainstay of OpenID development until recently.
We'll have to see how this policy and process works out. Its a new thing, and we'll have to explain to a lot of folks why the rules are the way they are. If you are a OpenID community participant, I encourage you to review the documents, and please do not hesitate to ask questions to me, individuals the board, or the openid-legal email list.
One issue that has not been finalized is dealing with trademark around the OpenID mark. That discussion is starting now. Look for news on that in the upcoming month or two.