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Network Working Group A. Falk Request for Comments: 5241 BBN Category: Informational S. Bradner

                                                    Harvard University
                                                          1 April 2008
                  Naming Rights in IETF Protocols

Status of This Memo

 This memo provides information for the Internet community.  It does
 not specify an Internet standard of any kind.  Distribution of this
 memo is unlimited.


 This document proposes a new revenue source for the IETF to support
 standardization activities: protocol field naming rights, i.e., the
 association of commercial brands with protocol fields.  This memo
 describes a process for assignment of rights and explores some of the
 issues associated with the process.  Individuals or organizations
 that wish to purchase naming rights for one or more protocol fields
 are expected to follow this process.

1. Introduction

 Normal engineering practice involves assigning names to fields in
 network protocols.  These names are generally carefully chosen to
 reflect the function of the field, for example, the IPv4 Destination
 Address field.
 As protocol designers engage in their work, many become intensely
 involved with these protocol fields.  Some of the most intense
 discussions within the IETF have been over details about such fields.
 In fact, it is an advantage to the continued viability of the IETF
 that dueling is outlawed in the countries in which it meets.
 But the financial realities of funding the Internet engineering and
 standardization processes may dictate that the IETF must consider
 whether names associated with such protocol fields represent an asset
 capable of responsible monetization.  This notion may be offensive to
 some protocol purists; however, we believe the exigencies of the
 situation make the proposal below worthy of consideration.

Falk & Bradner Informational [Page 1] RFC 5241 Naming Rights 1 April 2008

 This document describes a process and some issues associated with
 managing the sale of commercial branding rights (or naming rights)
 for IETF protocol fields.  The authors believe that this modest
 proposal may serve as a source of revenue capable of supporting IETF
 standardization activities for years to come.
 This proposal arose from the realization that the sports industry has
 made energetic and successful use of naming rights, for stadiums in
 particular, e.g., the Staples Center in Los Angeles (basketball),
 Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego (football), Minute Maid Park in Houston
 (baseball), and the Aaron's "Lucky Dog" get-a-lap-back (car racing).
 The Internet has enabled a new online economy that, even in the wake
 of the burst bubble in early 2000, is generating astounding growth
 and new services.  It is clear that many old-economy companies would
 place high value on being associated with the new online economy and
 would be willing to pay for the privilege.  Internet protocols are
 used around the world in myriad operating systems and devices.  To be
 part of the Internet protocols is to be part of the engine that is
 revolutionizing how commerce is done.  Many protocol fields are
 displayed in popular user applications either as key aspects of the
 GUI or in error or diagnostic messages.  By requiring the use of the
 branded protocol field, the IETF is in a position to put client
 company brands in front of not only the thousands of software
 developers who build with these protocols but also the hundreds of
 millions of users who benefit from them.  Finally, those who license
 and brand a protocol field will be able to use that field in their
 other marketing and claim, truthfully, that they are "in the
 This proposal includes creating a primary name value for each
 protocol field in the IANA registry and setting up a process whereby
 an organization or an individual can license the right to record a
 name of their choice in that field.
 This document makes the case for the need for additional revenue for
 the IETF (Section 2), followed by an introduction of the concept of
 branding in IETF protocols (Section 3).  Several rules and
 constraints necessary to make such a revenue stream practical are
 then explored (Sections 4-14).  Finally, this memo concludes with an
 initial assessment of the changes required by the IANA and RFC Editor
 to support such a service (Sections 15-17).
 The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
 document are to be interpreted as described in [RFC2119].

Falk & Bradner Informational [Page 2] RFC 5241 Naming Rights 1 April 2008

2. Revenue Needs

 Running the IETF is not inexpensive.  It was reported at the 71st
 IETF meeting in Philadelphia, PA, USA that the 2008 budget [BUDGET]
 for the IETF had surpassed US$4.5 M, up from $4.1 M in 2007.  About
 US$3 M of revenue in this budget flows directly from IETF activities,
 including meeting fees and sponsorships, and the remainder flows from
 the Internet Society (ISOC).  Over the last few years the IETF has
 had to raise meeting fees repeatedly in order to keep this budget
 balance reasonable.
 Raising an additional US$1 M from the rental of naming rights could
 significantly change the budget dynamics.  Perhaps meeting fees could
 be reduced for all attendees or special subsidies could be provided
 to needy students, researchers, or job seekers.  Other options for
 the use of the increased revenue could be sizing the break cookies
 large enough to feed a family of geeks for a week rather than the
 mere day and a half as was the case at the 71st IETF, or renting out
 a bar for the working group chairs social rather than having to put
 up with the rowdy locals.  There are many other equally deserving
 ways that the IETF could spend the resources generated by this
 proposal.  It should be noted that any such benefits may have to be
 delayed for a few years to pay for the startup costs noted below.

3. How Are Branded Protocol Fields Used?

3.1. Within the IETF

 When a protocol field name is licensed from the IETF, all future IETF
 activities, and documentation for products claiming to conform to
 IETF standards, MUST use the complete branded name.  The output from
 protocol implementations, and associated documentation, MUST be
 considered non-conformant if the complete branded name is not used.

3.2. Externally

 The official IETF name for a purchased field is the complete branded
 name.  Thus, all externally generated documentation that references
 the protocol must be considered incomplete unless it used the
 complete branded name where one exists.  The IETF leaves it to the
 licensee to enforce the use of complete branded names in non-IETF

Falk & Bradner Informational [Page 3] RFC 5241 Naming Rights 1 April 2008

4. Names Must Be in Good Taste

 The combination of brand names and protocol field names must avoid
 uses that may be considered offensive by some part of the Internet
 community.  Name purchases shall be reviewed for taste.  Prospective
 purchasers must prepare a proposal for how the branded protocol name
 will be used in advertising or other media.  (Note that a well-
 developed taste-review process may prove useful for other IETF
 activities, for example, IETF working group names, T-shirts, and host
 Within the limits of taste, the branded protocol field may be used
 for any purpose.

5. When Names Change

 As has been discovered in other areas where naming rights are sold or
 leased, commercial realities and developments mean that a brand name
 can suddenly go out of favor or even cease to denote an existing
 entity.  In addition, branding is leased (i.e., sold to be used over
 a limited time) and the branding for a particular field may change
 when the lease is up.  Thus, there must be a mechanism to change
 branding when needed.  See the IANA Considerations, RFC Editor
 Considerations, and Tools Considerations sections for more

6. Example Names

 The most effective names are those that pair the semantics of a field
 with a characteristic desirable to a sponsor.  The following examples
 of good and bad pairings illustrate how an appropriate pairing can be

6.1. Acceptable Taste-Wise

    IP:  Garmin GPS Destination Address
    IP:  White & Day Mortuary Time-to-live
    TCP: Princess Cruise Lines Port Number
    ARP: Springfield Preschool Timeout
    BGP: Sharpie Marker field
    TFRC: Traveler's Insurance Loss Period
    SCTP: Hershey's Chunk {type|flags|length}
    SMTP: eHarmony HELO

Falk & Bradner Informational [Page 4] RFC 5241 Naming Rights 1 April 2008

 Protocol names appear within the fields of other protocols;
 therefore, the protocols themselves may be candidates for branding:
    SOAP: Downey SOAP
    PPP: FloMax PPP
 There is no requirement for branding to be limited to company names
 or other trademarked terms.  For example, a publisher could decide to
 honor one of their authors:
    The Thomas Wolfe Source Address Field

6.2. In Bad Taste

    SIP: Seagrams Vodka SIP Event
    SIP: Calvin Klein Event Package
    IP: Viagra Total Length

6.3. Confusing Names

 Places where the brand could interfere with the understanding of the
 protocol are prohibited:
    SMTP: US Postal Service Mail command
    IPv6: ITU-T Protocol field
    IKE: RSA Vendor ID

6.4. Valid Names

 In order to be printed in the ASCII-only Real-RFC (described in
 Section 16) all brands must include an ASCII form.  The ASCII name
 MUST conform to the requirements in RFC 2223 [RFC2233].  The brand
 MAY optionally include a UTF-8 version for use in non-ASCII
 representations.  See RFC 3629 [RFC3629].

7. Who Can Buy Naming Rights?

 Any organization or individual can purchase the right to brand a
 protocol field.  The IETF will not undertake to ensure that the
 purchasing organization has the right to use the name they choose to
 use.  All purchasing organizations MUST indemnify the IETF against
 any challenges to the authority of the purchasing organization to use
 the name.

Falk & Bradner Informational [Page 5] RFC 5241 Naming Rights 1 April 2008

8. Scope of Naming Applicability

 Because the application of IETF protocols is not controlled in a way
 that corresponds to legal jurisdictions, it is difficult to restrict
 naming rights to include just those places where a particular
 trademark may be registered.  The process described in this memo does
 not include the use of geographic or geopolitical boundaries on the
 use of branded fields.  The design team is working on a proposal to
 overcome this issue.  If the design team is successful, the same
 proposal should find application in a number of areas of
 international diplomacy.

9. Who Can Sell Naming Rights?

 The IETF SHALL retain the sole right to permit branded protocol names
 to be used within IETF protocols.  The IETF MAY sell rights for
 external use of branded protocol names if the protocols have been
 developed within the IETF process and if the protocol field has not
 already been branded by someone else using the same process.

10. Pricing

 Multiple pricing strategies for the naming rights to protocol fields
 will likely be used over time.  The primary objective of pricing is
 to enable the greatest possible revenue for the IETF.  Initially,
 prices will be set by negotiation between the party wishing to
 purchase the naming right and the Internet Auction Board (IAB)
 representative.  However, we strongly suggest migrating to an all pay
 auction (also known as a Tullock auction) for finding the optimal
 price when there are multiple bidders [KOVENOCK].  Alternatively,
 open-outcry auctions [EKLOR], perhaps with a secret reserve price,
 could be held at IETF meetings using a BoF session, permitting taste
 review and brand assignment (sale) to be conducted concurrently and
 with open participation.  See [MILGROM] for information on various
 auction styles.

11. Time of Ownership

 The design team could not come to consensus on a default term of a
 lease of the authority to name a protocol field.  It was split
 between a term that would best represent the half-life of an Internet
 startup (1 or 2 years) and a term that would best represent the
 half-life of a product offered by a mature Internet company (8 to 10
 years).  The idea of terms any longer than 10 years, for example,
 leases that would terminate when a protocol advanced on the standards
 track (i.e., roughly infinite), was discussed but generally discarded
 because so few companies survive in any recognizable form for that

Falk & Bradner Informational [Page 6] RFC 5241 Naming Rights 1 April 2008

 length of time in the Internet space.  In the end, the design team
 concluded that the lease term should be part of the negotiation
 between the IETF and the purchasing organization.

12. How Are Naming Rights Purchased?

 The right to name a protocol field is purchased using the following
 process: licensees complete an application where they identify the
 protocol field they wish to use and the particular RFC in which it
 appears (Internet-Draft tags are available for short term lease).  At
 that time, they identify their brand and present their proposal for
 external use and length of ownership.  The next step is a taste
 review followed by an auction or IAB negotiation.  The purchase
 concludes with the IANA updating their protocol field name mapping

13. Dispute Resolutions

 All disputes arising from this process MUST be resolved using the
 ICANN Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy [UDRP].  While
 the protocol fields are not domain names, branding them presents the
 same types of issues and we feel that it's better to make use of an
 existing process rather than to invent a new one.

14. Future Expansions

 If this proposal proves successful, it can be easily expanded to
 include other protocol features such as options and parameters.  For
    IPv6: The Herman Melville Jumbogram option

15. IANA Considerations

 Upon the adoption of this proposal the IANA SHALL set up a protocol
 field-to-brand-name database (the "IETF Protocol Branding Catalog")
 that includes all protocol fields in IETF-developed or -maintained
 protocols.  This database can be bootstrapped from the existing
 protocol registries database [PROTREG], but this list will have to be
 augmented to include all fields in all IETF protocols, even the ones
 in which no IANA assignments are made.
 The two brand name fields associated with each protocol field (the
 ASCII field and the optional UTF-8 field) are initialized as NULL.

Falk & Bradner Informational [Page 7] RFC 5241 Naming Rights 1 April 2008

 Whenever the IETF leases a protocol field, the IANA SHALL enter the
 brand name(s) into the brand-named fields associated with the
 protocol field and SHALL set the lease termination date to the proper
 In addition, the IANA SHALL regularly scan the database to look for
 leases terminating within the next 30 days and inform the IETF of any
 such leases so that the IAB can approach the leaseholder to sign up
 for an additional term.  The IANA SHALL remove any brand names from
 their database when the lease expires.

16. RFC Editor Considerations

 Upon the adoption of this proposal the RFC Editor SHALL create XML
 versions of all IETF RFCs.  The XML must be such that a perfect copy
 of the original RFC can be produced using a tool such as xml2rfc
 [XML2RFC].  The XML versions of RFCs must identify all individual
 protocol fields using an XML protocol field element of the form:
   <pfield name="IPv4 Destination Address"/>
 (Doing this for all existing RFCs may involve some work.)
 As the XML RFCs are completed, the RFC Editor SHALL then create an
 ASCII version of the RFC from the XML file using the naming
 convention of "Real_RFCxxxx.txt".  During the translation, each
 protocol field is looked up in the IANA protocol field-to-brand name
 database.  If there is an ASCII brand name associated with the
 protocol field, the word "the" and the brand name are prepended to
 the IETF name for the field (unless the name appears in ASCII art
 where changing the length of the name would distort the art).  For
 example, if the protocol field is "Destination Address" and the brand
 name in the IANA database is "Garmin GPS", the string "the Garmin GPS
 Destination Address" would be used in the Real_RFC.  Changing the
 lengths of such names may require adjusting the other details of the
 document such as page numbering in the Table of Contents.  The
 software to do some of the formatting might be a bit tricky.
 The RFC Editor may optionally produce other non-normative versions of
 Real_RFCs.  For example, a non-normative Portable Document Format
 (PDF) version may be created in addition to the ASCII Real_RFC
 version.  The RFC Editor may use the UTF-8 brand, if present, in such
 alternate versions.
 The Real_RFC SHALL be used for all normal purposes within the IETF
 and elsewhere with the original version being reserved as an archival

Falk & Bradner Informational [Page 8] RFC 5241 Naming Rights 1 April 2008

 The RFC Editor SHALL rebuild all the Real_RFCs on a regular basis to
 create up-to-date Real_RFCs that reflect the current status of the
 protocol field licenses.
 The RFC Editor SHALL provide a list of un-leased field names to the
 IANA for inclusion in the IETF Protocol Branding Catalog.

17. Tool Builder Considerations

 Upon the adoption of this proposal, the maintainer of the official
 xml2rfc tool SHALL update the tool to support the protocol field
 element and to consult the IANA database when being used to produce
 Real_RFCs (or Real_IDs).  Upon the adoption of this proposal,
 document authors will be required to transmit the raw XML input file
 for the xml2rfc tool to the RFC Editor when the document is approved
 for publication.

18. Security Considerations

 The fact that the IETF will not undertake to ensure that the
 purchasing organization has the right to use the name they choose to
 use can lead to mischief.  For example, a Microsoft competitor could
 purchase the right to name the IPv4 Header Security Flag [RFC3514]
 "the Microsoft Evil bit".

19. Conclusion

 The discussion above has introduced the concept of branding IETF
 protocols and the associated implications.  Clearly there are non-
 trivial costs to starting up and maintaining such a revenue stream.
 However, advertising has a long and distinguished history of
 supporting valuable community services such as free broadcast
 television and Google.
 As branded protocols become established, new protocols will be
 developed with names conducive to branding.  In fact, licensees may
 initiate new IETF work just to see an appropriate field established.
 So, besides the economic benefits to the IETF, this initiative may in
 fact help ensure the IETF is never without work and, thus, self-
 sustaining and self-perpetuating.

Falk & Bradner Informational [Page 9] RFC 5241 Naming Rights 1 April 2008

20. References

20.1. Normative References

 [RFC2233]  Postel, J. and J. Reynolds, "Instructions to RFC Authors",
            RFC 2223, October 1997.

20.2. Informative References

 [BUDGET]   IETF 2008 budget,
 [EKLOR]    Eklor, M and A. Launander, "Open outcry auctions with
            secret reserve prices: an empirical application to
            executive auctions of tenant owner's apartments in
            Sweden", Journal of Econometrics, Volume 114, Issue 2,
            June 2003, pages 243-260.
 [KOVENOCK] Kovenock, D. & de Vries, C.G., 1995. "The All-Pay Auction
            with Complete Information", UFAE and IAE Working Papers
            311.95, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Analisi Economica (UAB)
            and Institut d'Analisi Economica (CSIC), revised.
 [MILGROM]  Milgrom, P., "Auctions and Bidding: A Primer", Journal of
            Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol.
            3(3), pages 3-22, Summer 1989.
 [PROTREG]  IANA Protocol Registries,
 [RFC2119]  Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate
            Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, March 1997.
 [RFC3514]  Bellovin, S., "The Security Flag in the IPv4 Header," RFC
            3514, 1 April 2003.
 [RFC3629]  Yergeau, F., "UTF-8, a transformation format of ISO
            10646", STD 63, RFC 3629, November 2003.
 [UDRP]     ICANN, "Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy",
 [XML2RFC]  "A handy little tool", <>.

Falk & Bradner Informational [Page 10] RFC 5241 Naming Rights 1 April 2008

21. Acknowledgments

 Craig Milo Rogers receives credit for the idea which lead to this
 proposal.  Allison Mankin contributed to some early discussions of
 the issues associated with naming rights.  Also, thanks to David
 Parkes for his advice on types of auctions.

Editors' Addresses

 Aaron Falk
 BBN Technologies
 10 Moulton Street
 Cambridge MA, 02138 USA
 Phone: +1 617 873 2575
 Scott Bradner
 Harvard University
 29 Oxford St.
 Cambridge MA, 02138 USA
 Phone: +1 617 495 3864

Falk & Bradner Informational [Page 11] RFC 5241 Naming Rights 1 April 2008

Full Copyright Statement

 Copyright (C) The IETF Trust (2008).
 This document is subject to the rights, licenses and restrictions
 contained in BCP 78, and except as set forth therein, the authors
 retain all their rights.
 This document and the information contained herein are provided on an

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Falk & Bradner Informational [Page 12]

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