VRRP : Confusion in the land of patents...

Alexandre Dulaunoy, adulau@foo.be

For a long time now, I'm looking at VRRP for some Free Software ("Open Source" Project). I
know well VRRP from the Nokia IPSO Firewall. VRRP stand for "Virtual
Router Redundancy Protocol". This protocol is use for network redundancy
of network device (from router to server). It has been standardized under
the  RFC2338 . The standardization was done by a  charter at the IETF . 
The charter was composed of people from Nokia IPRG, Cisco System and IBM. 

But after the initial draft, Cisco made a claim regarding a possible
patent  issue with
the VRRP protocol. IBM made a claim too regarding a possible  other patent  issue. 

The patent from CISCO is 
this one . It's a specific and closed protocol called HSRP. The
principe of HSRP and VRRP is not too different but they are differences. 
The main similarity is the existence of a virtual adress used and moving
around the backup and the real server (moving virtual to the real box). 

So we can read in the IPR notice from the IETF, that Cisco can provide
non-discriminatory licensing to VRRP for people who plan to implement the 
protocol. But we see no comment regarding the "Open Source" licensing
software. So we sent two email to the Cisco IP Product manager (the old
and the new manager) without any success, we didn't receive any respond. 

To complicate the case, there are some similar patent from some other 
company and not all the country in the world here it is an example : 

For Europe, Nortel has a patent regarding VRRP and "extended" VRRP :
 Nortel patent in Europe... 
I will not talk about some company like AT&T or Nec Corporation having a
patent regarding hot-standby processus. 

My main question is : "If I create a VRRP implementation under OpenBSD for
example, is the lawyers from Cisco will knock at my door ?" 

What is the future of the existing "Open Source" implementation of
VRRP for  Linux  or  FreeBSD? 

Please Cisco or any another VRRP patenter, send an official comment
regarding VRRP under an Open Source licensing. 


Alexandre Dulaunoy