RFC 1310
The Internet Standards Process

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Network Working Group                          Internet Activities Board
Request for Comments: 1310                           Lyman Chapin, Chair
                                                              March 1992

The Internet Standards Process

Status of this Memo

   This informational memo presents the current procedures for creating
   and documenting Internet Standards.  Distribution of this memo is


   1.  INTRODUCTION .................................................  2
      1.1. Internet Standards .......................................  2
      1.2. Organization .............................................  3
   2.  THE INTERNET STANDARDS PROCESS ...............................  4
      2.1. Introduction .............................................  4
      2.2. The Internet Standards Track .............................  5
      2.3. Requests for Comments (RFCs) .............................  5
      2.4. Internet Drafts ..........................................  6
      2.5. Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA) ................  7
      2.6. Review and Approval ......................................  8
      2.7. Entering the Standards Track .............................  9
      2.8. Advancing in the Standards Track .........................  9
      2.9. Revising a Standard ...................................... 10
   3.  NOMENCLATURE ................................................. 10
      3.1  Types of Specifications .................................. 10
      3.2  Standards Track Maturity Levels .......................... 12
      3.3  Non-Standards Track Maturity Levels ...................... 13
      3.4  Requirement Levels ....................................... 14
   4.  EXTERNAL STANDARDS AND SPECIFICATIONS ........................ 15
   5.  INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS ................................. 17
   6.  PATENT POLICY ................................................ 17
      6.1  Statement from Patent Holder ............................. 18
      6.2  Record of Statement ...................................... 18
      6.3  Notice ................................................... 18
      6.4  Identifying Patents ...................................... 19
   7.  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS AND REFERENCES ............................... 19
   APPENDIX A: GLOSSARY ............................................. 20
   APPENDIX B: UNRESOLVED ISSUES .................................... 21
   Security Considerations .......................................... 23
   Author's Address ................................................. 23

1.  INTRODUCTION Go to the top of this page...top


1.1  Internet Standards Go to the top of this page...top

      This memo documents the process currently used for the
      standardization of Internet protocols and procedures.

      The Internet, a loosely-organized international collaboration of
      autonomous, interconnected networks, supports host-to-host
      communication through voluntary adherence to open protocols and
      procedures defined by Internet Standards.  There are also many
      isolated internets, i.e., sets of interconnected networks, that
      are not connected to the Internet but use the Internet Standards.
      The architecture and technical specifications of the Internet are
      the result of numerous research and development activities
      conducted over a period of two decades, performed by the network
      R&D community, by service and equipment vendors, and by government
      agencies around the world.

      In general, an Internet Standard is a specification that is stable
      and well-understood, is technically competent, has multiple,
      independent, and interoperable implementations with operational
      experience, enjoys significant public support, and is recognizably
      useful in some or all parts of the Internet.

      The principal set of Internet Standards is commonly known as the
      "TCP/IP protocol suite".  As the Internet evolves, new protocols
      and services, in particular those for Open Systems Interconnection
      (OSI), have been and will be deployed in traditional TCP/IP
      environments, leading to an Internet that supports multiple
      protocol suites.  This document concerns all protocols,
      procedures, and conventions used in the Internet, not just the
      TCP/IP protocols.

      In outline, the process of creating an Internet Standard is
      straightforward: a specification undergoes a period of development
      and several iterations of review by the Internet community and
      perhaps revision based upon experience, is adopted as a Standard
      by the appropriate body (see below), and is published.

      In practice, the process is somewhat more complicated, due to (1)
      the number and type of possible sources for specifications; (2)
      the need to prepare and revise a specification in a manner that
      preserves the interests of all of the affected parties;  (3) the
      importance of establishing widespread community agreement on its
      technical content; and (4) the difficulty of evaluating the
      utility of a particular specification for the Internet community.
      Some specifications that are candidates for Internet
      standardization are the result of organized efforts directly
      within the Internet community; others are the result of work that
      was not originally organized as an Internet effort, but which was
      later adopted by the Internet community.

      From its inception, the Internet has been, and is expected to
      remain, an evolving system whose participants regularly factor new
      requirements and technology into the design and implementation of
      the global Internet.  Users of the Internet and providers of the
      equipment, software, and services that support it should
      anticipate and embrace this adaptability as a major tenet of
      Internet philosophy.

      The procedures described in this document are the result of three
      years of evolution, driven both by the needs of the growing and
      increasingly diverse Internet community, and by experience.
      Comments and suggestions are invited for improvement in these


1.2  Organization Go to the top of this page...top

      The Internet Activities Board (IAB) is the primary coordinating
      committee for Internet design, engineering, and management [1].
      The IAB has delegated to its Internet Engineering Task Force
      (IETF) the primary responsibility for the development and review
      of potential Internet Standards from all sources.  The IETF forms
      Working Groups to pursue specific technical issues, frequently
      resulting in the development of one or more specifications that
      are proposed for adoption as Internet Standards.

      Final decisions on Internet standardization are made by the IAB,
      based upon recommendations from the Internet Engineering Steering
      Group (IESG), the leadership body of the IETF.  IETF Working
      Groups are organized into areas, and each area is coordinated by
      an Area Director.  The Area Directors and the IETF Chairman are
      included in the IESG.

      Any member of the Internet community with the time and interest is
      urged to attend IETF meetings and to participate actively in one
      or more IETF Working Groups.  Participation is by individual
      technical contributors, rather than formal representatives of
      organizations.  The process works because the IETF Working Groups
      display a spirit of cooperation as well as a high degree of
      technical maturity; most IETF members agree that the greatest
      benefit for all members of the Internet community results from
      cooperative development of technically superior protocols and
      A second body under the IAB, the Internet Research Task Force
      (IRTF), investigates topics considered to be too uncertain, too
      advanced, or insufficiently well-understood to be the subject of
      Internet standardization.  When an IRTF activity generates a
      specification that is sufficiently stable to be considered for
      Internet standardization, it is processed through the IETF.

      Section 2 of this document describes the process and rules for
      Internet standardization.  Section 3 presents the nomenclature for
      different kinds and levels of Internet standard technical
      specifications and their applicability.  Section 4 defines how
      relevant externally-sponsored specifications and practices that
      are developed and controlled by other bodies or by vendors are
      handled in the Internet standardization process.  Section 5
      presents the requirement for prior disclosure of the existence of
      intellectual property rights.  Section 6 describes the rules for
      Internet Standards that involve patents.

2.  THE INTERNET STANDARDS PROCESS Go to the top of this page...top


2.1. Introduction Go to the top of this page...top

      The procedures described in this document are intended to provide
      a clear, open, and objective basis for developing, evaluating, and
      adopting Internet Standards for protocols and services.  The
      procedures provide ample opportunity for participation and comment
      by all interested parties.  Before an Internet Standard is
      adopted, it is repeatedly discussed (and perhaps debated) in open
      open meetings and/or public electronic mailing lists, and it is
      available for review via world-wide on-line directories.

      These procedures are explicitly aimed at developing and adopting
      generally-accepted practices.  Thus, a candidate for Internet
      standardization is implemented and tested for correct operation
      and interoperability by multiple, independent parties, and
      utilized in increasingly demanding environments, before it can be
      adopted as an Internet Standard.

      The procedures that are described here provide a great deal of
      flexibility to adapt to the wide variety of circumstances that
      occur in the Internet standardization process.  Experience has
      shown this flexibility to be vital in achieving the following
      goals for Internet standardization:
      *    high quality,

      *    prior implementation and testing,

      *    openness and fairness, and

      *    timeliness.


2.2.  The Internet Standards Track Go to the top of this page...top

      Specifications that are destined to become Internet Standards
      evolve through a set of maturity levels known as the "standards
      track".  These maturity levels -- "Proposed Standard", "Draft
      Standard", and "Standard" -- are defined and discussed below in
      Section 3.2.

      Even after a specification has been adopted as an Internet
      Standard, further evolution often occurs based on experience and
      the recognition of new requirements.  The nomenclature and
      procedures of Internet standardization provide for the replacement
      of old Internet Standards with new ones, and the assignment of
      descriptive labels to indicate the status of "retired" Internet
      Standards.  A set of maturity levels is defined in Section 3.3 to
      cover these and other "off-track" specifications.


2.3.  Requests For Comments (RFCs) Go to the top of this page...top

      Each distinct version of a specification is published as part of
      the "Request for Comments" (RFC) document series.

      RFCs form a series of publications of networking technical
      documents, begun in 1969 as part of the original DARPA wide-area
      networking (ARPANET) project (see Appendix A for glossary of
      acronyms).  RFCs cover a wide range of topics, from early
      discussion of new research concepts to status memos about the
      Internet.  The IAB views the RFC publication process to be
      sufficiently important to warrant including the RFC Editor in the
      IAB membership.

      The status of specifications on the Internet standards track is
      summarized periodically in a summary RFC entitled "IAB Official
      Protocol Standards" [2].  This RFC shows the level of maturity and
      other helpful information for each Internet protocol or service
             *   The "IAB Official Protocol Standards" RFC is the   *
             *   authoritative statement of the status of any       *
             *   particular Internet specification,                 *

      and it is the "Publication of Record" with respect to Internet

      The STD documents form a subseries of the RFC series.  When a
      specification has been adopted as a Standard, its RFC is labeled
      with a STDxxx number [9] in addition to its RFC number.

      Not all specifications of protocols or services for the Internet
      should or will become Internet Standards.  Such non-standards
      track specifications are not subject to the rules for Internet
      standardization; generally, they will be published directly as
      RFCs at the discretion of the RFC editor.  These RFCs will be
      marked as "Experimental" or "Informational" (see section 3.3).

             *   It is important to remember that not all RFCs      *
             *   are standards track documents, and that not all    *
             *   standards track documents reach the level of       *
             *   Standard.                                          *


2.4.  Internet Drafts Go to the top of this page...top

      During the development of a specification, draft versions of the
      document are made available for informal review and comment by
      placing them in the IETF's "Internet Drafts" directory, which is
      replicated on a number of Internet hosts.  This makes an evolving
      working document readily available to a wide audience,
      facilitating the process of review and revision.

      After completion to the satisfaction of its author and the
      cognizant Working Group, a document that is expected to enter or
      advance in the Internet standardization process shall be made
      available as an Internet Draft.  It shall remain as an Internet
      Draft for a period of time that permits useful community review,
      at least two weeks, before submission to the IESG.

      An Internet Draft that is published as an RFC is removed from the
      Internet Draft directory.  A document that has remained unchanged
      in the Internet Drafts directory for more than six months without
      being recommended by the IESG for publication as an RFC is simply
      removed from the Internet Draft directory.  At any time, an
      Internet Draft may be replace by a more recent version of the same
      specification, restarting the six-month timeout period.

      An Internet Draft is NOT a means of "publishing" a specification;
      specifications are published through the RFC mechanism described
      in the next section.  Internet Drafts have no formal status, and
      are not part of the permanent archival record of Internet
      activity, and they are subject to change or removal at any time.
      Under no circumstances should an Internet Draft be referenced by
      any paper, report, or Request for Proposal.


2.5.  Internet Assigned Number Authority (IANA) Go to the top of this page...top

      Many protocol specifications include numbers, keywords, and other
      parameters that must be uniquely assigned.  Examples include
      version numbers, protocol numbers, port numbers, and MIB numbers.
      The IAB has delegated to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority
      (IANA) the task of assigning such protocol parameters for the
      Internet.  The IANA publishes tables of all currently assigned
      numbers and parameters in RFCs titled "Assigned Numbers" [8].

      Each category of assigned numbers typically arises from some
      protocol that is on the standards track or is an Internet
      Standard.  For example, TCP port numbers are assigned because TCP
      is a Standard.  A particular value within a category may be
      assigned in a variety of circumstances; the specification
      requiring the parameter may be in the standards track, it may be
      Experimental, or it may be private.

      Chaos could result from accidental conflicts of parameter values,
      so we urge that every protocol parameter, for either public or
      private usage, be explicitly assigned by the IANA.  Private
      protocols often become public.  Programmers are often tempted to
      choose a "random" value, or guess the next unassigned value of a
      parameter; both are hazardous.

      The IANA is tasked to avoid frivolous assignments and to
      distinguish different assignments uniquely.  The IANA accomplishes
      both goals by requiring a technical description of each protocol
      or service to which a value is to be assigned.  Judgment on the
      adequacy of the description resides with the IANA.  In the case of
      a standards track or Experimental protocol, the corresponding
      technical specifications provide the required documentation for
      IANA.  For a proprietary protocol, the IANA will keep confidential
      any writeup that is supplied, but at least a short (2 page)
      writeup is still required for an assignment.

      To contact the IANA for information or to request a number,
      keyword or parameter assignment send an email message to


2.6.  Review And Approval Go to the top of this page...top

      A standards action -- entering a particular specification into, or
      advancing it within, the standards track -- shall be recommended
      to the appropriate IETF Area Director, or to the Chairman of the
      IETF, by the individual or group that is responsible for the
      specification.  Usually, the recommendation will come from an IETF
      Working Group.  The Area Director or IETF chairman, in
      consultation with the IESG, shall determine if an independent
      technical review of the specification is required, and shall
      commission one if necessary.

      When a specification is sufficiently important in terms of its
      potential impact on the Internet or on the suite of Internet
      protocols, the IESG shall form a special review and analysis
      committee to prepare an evaluation of the specification.  Such a
      committee is commissioned to provide an objective basis for
      agreement within the Internet community that the specification is
      ready for advancement.  Furthermore, when the criteria for
      advancement along the standards track for an important class of
      specifications (e.g., routing protocols [6]) are not universally
      recognized, the IESG shall commission the development and
      publication of category-specific acceptance criteria.

      The IESG shall determine whether a specification satisfies the
      applicable criteria for the recommended action (see Sections 3.2
      and 3.3 of this document) and shall communicate its findings to
      the IETF to permit a final review by the general Internet
      community.  This IETF notification shall be via electronic mail to
      the IETF mailing list; in addition, there will often be a
      presentation or statement by the appropriate working group or Area
      Director during an IETF plenary meeting.  Any significant issues
      that have not been resolved satisfactorily during the development
      of the specification may be raised at this time for final
      resolution by the IESG.

      The IESG shall communicate to the IAB its recommendation for
      action, with a citation to the most current version of the
      document.  The IETF shall be notified by email of any such
      recommendation.  If the IAB finds a significant problem, or needs
      clarification on a particular point, it shall resolve the matter
      with the Working Group and its chairperson and/or the document
      author, with the assistance and concurrence of the IESG and the
      relevant IETF Area Director.
      Following IAB approval and any necessary editorial work, the RFC
      Editor shall publish the specification as an RFC.  The
      specification shall then be removed from the Internet Drafts


2.7.  Entering The Standards Track Go to the top of this page...top

      A specification that is potentially an Internet Standard may
      originate from:

      (a)  an IAB-sponsored effort (typically an IETF Working Group),

      (b)  independent activity by individuals, or

      (c)  an external organization.

      In cases (b) and (c), the work might be tightly integrated with
      the work of an existing IETF Working Group, or it might be offered
      for standardization without prior IETF involvement.  In most
      cases, a specification resulting from an effort that took place
      outside of an IETF Working Group context will be submitted to an
      appropriate Working Group for evaluation and refinement; if
      necessary, an appropriate Working Group will be created.

      For externally-developed specifications that are well-integrated
      with existing Working Group efforts, a Working Group is assumed to
      afford adequate community review of the accuracy and applicability
      of the specification.  If a Working Group is unable to resolve all
      technical and usage questions, additional independent review may
      be necessary.  Such reviews may be done within a Working Group
      context, or by an ad hoc review committee established specifically
      for that purpose.  It is the responsibility of the appropriate
      IETF Area Director to determine what, if any, review of an
      external specification is needed and how it shall be conducted.


2.8.  Advancing In The Standards Track Go to the top of this page...top

      A specification shall remain at the Proposed Standard level for at
      least 6 months and at the Draft Standard level for at least 4

      A specification may be (indeed, is likely to be) revised as it
      advances through the standards track.  At each stage, the IESG
      shall determine the scope and significance of the revision to the
      specification, and, if necessary and appropriate, modify the
      recommended action.  Minor revisions are expected, and they will
      not affect advancement through the standards track.  A significant
      revision may require that the specification accumulate more
      experience at its current maturity level before progressing.
      Finally, if the specification has been changed very significantly,
      the IESG may decide to treat the revision as if it were a new
      document, re-entering the standards track at the beginning.

      A specification that has not reached the maturity level of
      Standard within twenty-four months of first becoming a Proposed
      Standard shall be reviewed for viability by the IESG, which shall
      recommend either termination or continuation of the development
      effort to the IAB.  Such a recommendation shall be communicated to
      the IETF via electronic mail to the IETF mailing list, to allow
      the Internet community an opportunity to comment.  This provision
      is not intended to threaten legitimate and active Working Group
      efforts, but rather to provide an administrative mechanism for
      terminating a moribund effort.


2.9.  Revising A Standard Go to the top of this page...top

      A recommendation to revise an established Internet Standard shall
      be evaluated by the IESG with respect to the operational impact of
      introducing a new version while the previous version is still in
      use.  If the IESG accepts the recommendation, the new version must
      progress through the full Internet standardization process as if
      it were a completely new specification.

      Once the new version has reached the Standard level, it may
      immediately replace the previous version.  In some cases, both
      versions may remain as Internet Standards to honor the
      requirements of an installed base; however, the relationship
      between the previous and the new versions must be explicitly
      stated in the text of the new version or in another appropriate
      document (e.g., an Applicability Statement; see Section 3.1.2).

3.  NOMENCLATURE Go to the top of this page...top


3.1.  Types Of Specifications Go to the top of this page...top

      The specifications subject to the Internet standardization process
      fall into two categories:  Technical Specifications (TS) and
      Applicability Statements (AS).

      3.1.1.  Technical Specification (TS)

         A Technical Specification is any description of a protocol,
         service, procedure, convention, or format.  It may completely
         describe all of the relevant aspects of its subject, or it may
         leave one or more parameters or options unspecified.  A TS may
         be completely self-contained, or it may incorporate material
         from other specifications by reference to other documents
         (which may or may not be Internet Standards).

         A TS shall include a statement of its scope and the general
         intent for its use (domain of applicability).  Thus, a TS that
         is inherently specific to a particular context shall contain a
         statement to that effect.  However, a TS does not specify
         requirements for its use within the Internet; these
         requirements, which depend on the particular context in which
         the TS is incorporated by different system configurations, is
         defined by an Applicability Statement.

      3.1.2.  Applicability Statement (AS)

         An Applicability Statement specifies how, and under what
         circumstances, one or more TSs are to be applied to support a
         particular Internet capability. An AS may specify uses for TSs
         that are not Internet Standards, as discussed in Section 4.

         An AS identifies the relevant TSs and the specific way in which
         they are to be combined, and may also specify particular values
         or ranges of TS parameters or subfunctions of a TS protocol
         that must be implemented.  An AS also specifies the
         circumstances in which the use of a particular TS is required,
         recommended, or elective.

         An AS may describe particular methods of using a TS in a
         restricted "domain of applicability", such as Internet routers,
         terminal servers, Internet systems that interface to Ethernets,
         or datagram-based database servers.

         The broadest type of AS is a comprehensive conformance
         specification, commonly called a "requirements document", for a
         particular class of Internet systems [3,4,5], such as Internet
         routers or Internet hosts.

         An AS may not have a higher maturity level in the standards
         track than any TS to which the AS applies.  For example, a TS
         at Draft Standard level may be referenced by an AS at the
         Proposed Standard or Draft Standard level, but not an AS at the
         Standard level.  Like a TS, an AS does not come into effect
         until it reaches Standard level.

      Although TSs and ASs are conceptually separate, in practice an
      Internet Standard RFC may include elements of both an AS and one
      or more TSs in a single document.  For example, Technical
      Specifications that are developed specifically and exclusively for
      some particular domain of applicability, e.g., for mail server
      hosts, often contain within a single specification all of the
      relevant AS and TS information.  In such cases, no useful purpose
      would be served by deliberately distributing the information among
      several documents just to preserve the formal AS/TS distinction.
      However, a TS that is likely to apply to more than one domain of
      applicability should be developed in a modular fashion, to
      facilitate its incorporation by multiple ASs.


3.2.  Standards Track Maturity Levels Go to the top of this page...top

      ASs and TSs go through stages of development, testing, and
      acceptance.  Within the Internet standards process, these stages
      are formally labeled "maturity levels".

      This section describes the maturity levels and the expected
      characteristics of specifications at each level.  The general
      procedures for developing a specification and processing it
      through the maturity levels along the standards track were
      discussed in Section 2 above.

      3.2.1. Proposed Standard

         The entry-level maturity for the standards track is "Proposed
         Standard".  A Proposed Standard specification is generally
         stable, has resolved known design choices, is believed to be
         well-understood, has received significant community review, and
         appears to enjoy enough community interest to be considered

         Usually, neither implementation nor operational experience is
         required for the designation of a specification as a Proposed
         Standard.  However, such experience is highly desirable, and
         will usually represent a strong argument in favor of a Proposed
         Standard designation.  Furthermore, the IAB may require
         implementation and/or operational experience prior to granting
         Proposed Standard status to a specification that materially
         affects the core Internet protocols or that specifies behavior
         that may have significant operational impact on the Internet.
         Typically, such a specification will be published initially in
         the Experimental state (see below), which is not part of the
         standards track, and moved to the standards track only after
         sufficient implementation or operational experience has been

         A Proposed Standard should have no known technical omissions
         with respect to the requirements placed upon it.  In some
         cases, the IESG may recommend that the requirements be
         explicitly reduced in order to allow a protocol to advance into
         the Proposed Standard state.  This can happen if the
         specification is considered to be useful and necessary (and
         timely), even absent the missing features.  For example, some
         protocols have been advanced by explicitly deciding to omit
         security features at the Proposed Standard level, since an
         overall security architecture was still under development.

      3.2.2. Draft Standard

         A specification from which at least two independent and
         interoperable implementations have been developed, and for
         which adequate operational experience has been obtained, may be
         elevated to the "Draft Standard" level.  This is a major
         advance in status, indicating a strong belief that the
         specification is mature and will be useful.

         A Draft Standard must be well-understood and known to be quite
         stable, both in its semantics and as a basis for developing an
         implementation.  A Draft Standard may still require additional
         or more widespread field experience, since it is possible for
         implementations based on Draft Standard specifications to
         demonstrate unforeseen behavior when subjected to large-scale
         use in production environments.

      3.2.3. Standard

         A specification for which significant implementation and
         operational experience has been obtained may be elevated to the
         Standard level.  A Standard is characterized by a high degree
         of technical maturity and by a generally held belief that the
         specified protocol or service provides significant benefit to
         the Internet community.


3.3. Non-Standards Track Maturity Levels Go to the top of this page...top

      Not every TS or AS is on the standards track.  A TS may not be
      intended to be an Internet Standard, or it may be intended for
      eventual standardization but not yet ready to enter the standards
      track.  A TS or AS may have been superseded by more recent
      Internet Standards, or have otherwise fallen into disuse or
      disfavor.  Such specifications are labeled with one of three
      "non-standards track" maturity levels: "Historic", "Experimental",
      and "Informational".

      3.3.1. Historic

         A TS or AS that has been superseded by a more recent
         specification or is for any other reason considered to be
         obsolete is assigned to the "Historic" level.  (Purists have
         suggested that the word should be "Historical"; however, at
         this point the use of "Historic" is historical.)

      3.3.2. Experimental

         The "Experimental" designation on a TS permits widespread
         dissemination (through publication according to the procedures
         defined by this document) with explicit caveats:  it may
         specify behavior that has not been thoroughly analyzed or is
         poorly understood;  it may be subject to considerable change;
         it may never be a candidate for the formal standards track;
         and it may be discarded in favor of some other proposal.

         Any TS that is not an immediate candidate for Internet
         standardization is appropriate for publication as Experimental.
         Interested parties are thereby given the opportunity to gain
         experience with implementations and to report their findings to
         the community of interest, but the specification is explicitly
         not recommended for general production use.

      3.3.3. Informational

         An "Informational" specification is published for the general
         information of the Internet community, and does not represent
         an Internet community consensus or recommendation.

         Specifications that have been prepared outside of the Internet
         community and are not incorporated into the Internet standards
         process by any of the provisions of Section 4 may be published
         as Informational RFCs, with the permission of the owner.  Such
         a document is not an Internet Standard in any sense.


3.4.  Requirement Levels Go to the top of this page...top

      An AS may apply one of the following "requirement levels" to each
      of the TSs to which it refers:

      (a)  Required:  Implementation of the referenced TS, as specified
           by the AS, is required to achieve minimal conformance.  For
           example, IP and ICMP must be implemented by all Internet
           systems using the TCP/IP Protocol Suite.

      (b)  Recommended:  Implementation of the referenced TS is not
           required for minimal conformance, but experience and/or
           generally accepted technical wisdom suggest its desirability
           in the domain of applicability of the AS.  Vendors are
           strongly encouraged to include the functions, features, and
           protocols of Recommended TSs in their products, and should
           omit them only if the omission is justified by some special

      (c)  Elective:  Implementation of the referenced TS is optional
           within the domain of applicability of the AS; that is, the AS
           creates no explicit necessity to apply the TS.  However, a
           particular vendor may decide to implement it, or a particular
           user may decide that it is a necessity in a specific

      As noted in Section 2.5, there are TSs that are not in the
      standards track or that have been retired from the standards
      track, and are therefore not required, recommended, or elective.
      Two additional "requirement level" designations are available for
      such TSs:

      (d)  Limited Use:  The TS is considered appropriate for use only
           in limited or unique circumstances.  For example, the usage
           of a protocol with the "Experimental" designation should
           generally be limited to those actively involved with the

      (e)  Not Recommended:  A TS that is considered to be inappropriate
           for general use is labeled "Not Recommended".  This may be
           because of its limited functionality, specialized nature, or
           historic status.

      The "IAB Official Protocol Standards" RFC lists a general
      requirement level for each TS, using the nomenclature defined in
      this section.  In many cases, more detailed descriptions of the
      requirement levels of particular protocols and of individual
      features of the protocols will be found in appropriate ASs.

4.  EXTERNAL STANDARDS AND SPECIFICATIONS Go to the top of this page...top

   Many de facto and de jure standards groups other than the IAB/IETF
   create and publish standards documents for network protocols and
   services.  When these external specifications play an important role
   in the Internet, it is desirable to reach common agreements on their
   usage -- i.e., to establish Internet Standards relating to these
   external specifications.

   There are two categories of external specifications:

   (1)  Open Standards

        Accredited national and international standards bodies, such as
        ANSI, ISO, IEEE, and CCITT, develop a variety of protocol and
        service specifications that are similar to Technical
        Specifications (see glossary in Appendix A).  These
        specifications are generally de jure standards.  Similarly,
        national and international groups publish "implementors'
        agreements" that are analogous to Applicability Statements,
        capturing a body of implementation-specific detail concerned
        with the practical application of their standards.

   (2)  Vendor Specifications

        A vendor-specific specification that has come to be widely used
        in the Internet may be treated by the Internet community as a de
        facto "standard".  Such a specification is not generally
        developed in an open fashion, is typically proprietary, and is
        controlled by the vendor or vendors that produced it.

   To avoid conflict between competing versions of a specification, the
   Internet community will not standardize a TS or AS that is simply an
   "Internet version" of an existing external specification, unless an
   explicit cooperative arrangement to do so has been made.  There are,
   however, several ways in which an external specification that is
   important for the operation and/or evolution of the Internet may be
   adopted for Internet use:

   (a)  Incorporation of an Open Standard

        An Internet Standard TS or AS may incorporate an open external
        standard by reference.  The reference must be to a specific
        version of the external standard, e.g., by publication date or
        by edition number, according to the prevailing convention of the
        organization that is responsible for the specification.

        For example, many Internet Standards incorporate by reference
        the ANSI standard character set "ASCII" [7].

   (b)  Incorporation of a Vendor Specification

        Vendor-proprietary specifications may also be incorporated, by
        reference to a specific version of the vendor standard.  If the
        vendor-proprietary specification is not widely and readily
        available, the IAB may request that it be published as an
        Informational RFC.

        In order for a vendor-proprietary specification to be
        incorporated within the Internet standards process, the
        proprietor must agree in writing to the IAB that "right to use"
        licenses will be available on a non-discriminatory basis and at
        a reasonable cost.  See also Sections 5 and 6.

        In addition, the IAB/IETF will generally not favor a particular
        vendor's proprietary specification over the technically
        equivalent and competing specifications of other vendors by
        making it "required" or "recommended".

   (c)  Assumption

        An IETF Working Group may start with a vendor's (or other
        body's) voluntarily contributed specification, and independently
        evolve the specification into a TS or AS.  Here "independently"
        means that the IETF work is not constrained by conditions
        imposed by the owner of the original specification;  however,
        the continued participation of the original owner in the IETF
        work is likely to be valuable, and is encouraged.  The IAB must
        receive a formal delegation of responsibility from the original
        owner that gives the IAB/IETF responsibility for evolution of
        the specification.

   As provided by section 3.1.2, an AS that specifies how an external
   technical specification should be applied in the Internet,
   incorporating the external specification by reference, may become an
   Internet Standard.

5.  INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS Go to the top of this page...top

   Prior to the approval of a specification as a Proposed Standard, all
   interested parties are required to disclose to the IAB the existence
   of any intellectual property right claims known to them that might
   apply to any aspect of the Proposed Standard.

   This requirement refers specifically to disclosure of the *existence*
   of a current or anticipated claim of an intellectual property right,
   not the details of the asserted right itself.

6.  PATENT POLICY Go to the top of this page...top

   This section is tentative, subject to legal review.

   There is no objection in principle to drafting an Internet Standard
   in terms that include an item or items subject to patent rights that
   may have been asserted in one or more countries, if it is considered
   that technical reasons justify this approach.  In such cases the
   procedure described in this section shall be followed.

6.1 Statement From Patent Holder Go to the top of this page...top

      Prior to approval of the specification as a Proposed Standard, the
      IAB shall receive from the known patent holders, in a form
      acceptable to and approved by the IAB, either (a) assurance in the
      form of a general disclaimer to the effect that the patent holder
      does not hold and does not anticipate holding any right that would
      be violated as a consequence of conformance to the standard, or
      (b) assurance that

      (1)  a license will be made available without compensation to all
           applicants desiring to utilize the patented items for the
           purpose of implementing the standard, or

      (2)  a license will be made available to applicants under
           specified reasonable terms and conditions that are, to the
           satisfaction of the IAB, demonstrably free of any unfair

      The terms and conditions of any license falling under (1) or (2)
      shall be submitted to the IAB for review, together with a
      statement of the number of independent licenses, if any, that have
      accepted or indicated their acceptance of the terms and conditions
      of the license.

      In addition, the letter to the IAB must contain (c) assurance that
      the patent holder does have the right to grant the license, and
      (d) a notification of any other patent licenses that are required,
      or else the assurance that no other licenses are required.


6.2  Record Of Statement Go to the top of this page...top

      A record of the patent holder's statement (and a statement from
      the IAB of the basis for considering such terms and conditions to
      be free of any unfair discrimination) shall be placed and retained
      in the files of the IAB.


6.3  Notice Go to the top of this page...top

      When the IAB receives from a patent holder the assurance set forth
      in section 5.1(1) or 5.1(2), the corresponding Internet Standard
      shall include a note as follows:

      "NOTE:  The user's attention is called to the possibility that
      compliance with this standard may require the use of an invention
      or work covered by patent claims.

      "By publication of this standard, no position is taken with
      respect to the validity of this claim or of any patent rights in
      connection therewith.  The patent holder has, however, filed a
      statement of willingness to grant a license under these rights, on
      reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms and conditions, to
      applicants desiring to obtain such a license.  Details may be
      obtained from the IAB."


6.4  Identifying Patents Go to the top of this page...top

      The IAB shall not be responsible for identifying all patents for
      which a license may be required by an Internet Standard, nor for
      conducting inquiries into the legal validity or scope of those
      patents that are brought to its attention.

7.  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS AND REFERENCES Go to the top of this page...top

   This document represents the combined output of the Internet
   Activities Board and the Internet Engineering Steering Group, the
   groups charged with managing the processes described in this
   document.  Major contributions to the text were made by Bob Braden,
   Vint Cerf, Lyman Chapin, Dave Crocker, and Barry Leiner.  Helpful
   comments and suggestions were made by a number of IETF members.

   [1]  Cerf, V., "The Internet Activities Board", RFC 1160, IAB, May

   [2]  Postel, J., "IAB Official Protocol Standards", RFC 1280, IAB,
        March 1992.

   [3]  Braden, R., Editor, "Requirements for Internet Hosts --
        Communication Layers", RFC 1122, IETF, October 1989.

   [4]  Braden, R., Editor, "Requirements for Internet Hosts --
        Application and Support", RFC 1123, IETF, October 1989.

   [5]  Almquist, P., Editor, "Requirements for IP Routers", in

   [6]  Hinden, R., "Internet Engineering Task Force Internet Routing
        Protocol Standardization Criteria", RFC 1264, BBN, October 1991.

   [7]  ANSI, Coded Character Set -- 7-Bit American Standard Code for
        Information Interchange, ANSI X3.4-1986.

   [8]  Reynolds, J., and J. Postel, "Assigned Numbers", RFC 1060, ISI,
        March 1990.
   [9]  Postel, J., "Introduction to the STD Notes", RFC 1311, ISI,
        March 1992.

APPENDIX A: GLOSSARY Go to the top of this page...top

   ANSI:  American National Standards Institute

   CCITT: Consultative Committee for International Telephone and

             A part of the UN Treaty Organization: the International
             Telecommunications Union (ITU).

   DARPA: (U.S.) Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

   ISO:   International Organization for Standardization


   This memo resulted from an effort to document the current standards
   procedures in the Internet community.  At the time of publication,
   Sections 5 and 6 are still undergoing legal review.  In addition,
   there are important issues under consideration of how to handle
   copyrights and other issues of intellectual property.  This memo is
   being published with these matters unresolved, due to its importance.

   Pre-publication review of this document resulted in a number of
   useful suggestions from members of the Internet community, and opened
   up several new issues.  The IAB and IESG will continue to consider
   these questions and attempt to resolve these issues; the results will
   be be incorporated in future versions of this memo.

   For future reference, this appendix records the outstanding
   suggestions and issues.

   It has been suggested that additional procedures in the following
   areas should be considered.

   o    Appeals Procedure

        Should there be some formal appeals procedure for correcting
        abuses or procedural failures, at each decision point in the

   o    Tracking Procedure

        Should there be a formal procedure for tracking problems and
        change requests, as a specification moves through the standards
        track?  Such a procedure might include written responses, which
        were cataloged and disseminated, or simply a database that
        listed changes between versions.

   o    Rationale Documentation

        Should the procedures require written documentation of the
        rationale for the design decisions behind each specification at
        the Draft Standard and Standard levels?

   o    Application-Layer Standards

        Should there be some way to "standardize" application-layer
        protocols that are not going to become Internet Standards?

   There were suggestions for fine-tuning of the existing procedures:
   o    Increase minimum time in Internet Draft directory from 2 weeks
        to 1 month.

   o    Place explicit time limit, on IESG and IAB action on suggested
        standards changes.  Limits suggested: three months.

        If it were necessary to extend the time for some reason, the
        IETF would have to be explicitly notified.

   o    Change minimum time at Draft Standard from 4 to 5 months, to
        ensure that an IETF meeting will intervene.

   o    There were differing suggestions on how to balance between early
        implementation of specifications available only as Internet
        Drafts, and ensuring that everyone is clear that such an
        Internet Draft has no official status and is subject to change
        at any time.  One suggestion was that vendors should not claim
        compliance with an Internet Draft.

   Finally, there were suggestions for improvements in the documentation
   of the standards procedures.

   o    Discuss the impact, if any, of export control laws on the
        Internet standardization process.

        It was observed that the Requirements RFCs contain "negative"
        requirement levels: MUST NOT and SHOULD NOT.  Such levels are
        not recognized in this Procedures document.

   o    Document needs to more clearly explain the criteria for choosing
        the Experimental vs. Informational category for an off-track
        specification.  Ref. sections 3.3.2, 3.3.4.

   o    Develop recommended wording for citations to Internet Drafts,
        which makes clear the provisional, unofficial nature of that

   o    Consider changing the name attached to a fully-adopted standard
        from "Standard" to some qualified term like "Full Standard".

   o    It has been suggested that the document should more strongly
        encourage the use of specifications from other standards bodies,
        with Internet-specific changes to be made only for compelling
        reasons.  Further, the justification of the compelling
        requirement would be subject to special review.

Security Considerations Go to the top of this page...top

   Security issues are not substantially discussed in this memo.

Author's Address Go to the top of this page...top

   A. Lyman Chapin
   BBN Communications Corporation
   150 Cambridge Park Drive
   Cambridge, MA  02140

   Phone: 617-873-3133
   Fax:   617-873-4086

   Email: Lyman@BBN.COM