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International voting on Java standardization finished

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San Francisco (July 15, 1997) -- Voting on whether or not the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) will let Sun's Java technology be standardized through its Joint Technical Committee (JTC-1) has ended, but a yes or no decision on Java's fate with the ISO appears months away.

For one thing, according to the American National Standards Institute's director for international secretariats, Lisa Rajchel, not all of the 27 voting members have submitted their votes. Five members have yet to vote, and they have been given a one-week extension to do so.

But Rajchel said that no matter what happens, Sun will be given 60 days to "address all comments" (international standard parlance meaning "change its proposal"). According to her, the vote to standardize "would be black and white [only] if there weren't any comments" -- and the United States, for one, has already submitted comments. (See Resources below.)

Apparently, the criticisms of the JTC-1's other voting members do not differ greatly from those of the U.S. committee, which center around Sun's control of the Java trademark, how much of the Java technology will actually be submitted, control over revisions of the Java specification, and the openness of the process proposed by Sun.

In a teleconference today Jim Mitchell, JavaSoft's VP of technology, downplayed the significance of objections over Sun's control of the trademark, saying that a brand name and an internationally recognized standard should be able to coexist. He compared the possible Java/ISO standard distinction to that between Ethernet (which is a brand name) and the IEEE 802.3 standard. He said the "evolution and maintenance" of the standard would be a "tough one" and that figuring out "how maintenance happens that keeps up with Internet speed...but merges well with the standards process we already have, is going to take work."

The Ethernet analogy is an interesting one because the trademark for Ethernet was handed over to the public domain. According to Ethernet's inventor, Bob Metcalfe, "the Ethernet trademark was passed into the public domain so that DEC, Intel, HP, et al could use it without always referring back to Xerox [where Ethernet originated]." Mitchell declined to say whether the ISO standard would actually be called Java or not.

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