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Interoperability Program
Copyright © 1998 The Open Group

Operation of the Program

Before invoking the Interoperability Program, steps need to be taken to address issues using existing support mechanisms.

The Open Group does not seek to provide specific guidance or place requirements on how customers and vendors conduct their business prior to reaching the point of requesting the assistance of The Open Group, as the process and level of support varies from company to company and location to location. Nonetheless, both customers and vendors are required to attempt to address the issue by using their existing mechanisms.

The service offered by the Interoperability Program is the exception process, to be invoked when support processes fail to produce a resolution. Therefore, the Conciliation and Mediation processes are a means of last resort, and should be requested only when all other avenues of resolution, short of litigation or other legal processes, have been explored and exhausted.

If a vendor of a Registered Product is required to participate in the Interoperability Program but fails to comply with the obligations set forth in this document, the vendor will be considered to have failed to meet the conformance requirements for that Registered Product and the relevant provisions of the TMLA will apply as normal.


The scope of interoperability is defined by the particular Product Standards for which participation in the Interoperability Program is a conformance requirement for a Registered Product.

Each Product Standard that mandates participation in the Interoperability Program will do so by specific reference.

Sequence of Steps

The Interoperability Program consists of the following sequence of steps:

Responsibilities of Parties

The Open Group

The Open Group is a third party in the Conciliation and Mediation processes. The processes provide the framework to assist the vendor in providing conformance and interoperability, and The Open Group operates the process to conduct Conciliation and, if necessary, Mediation of issues. An appointed representative of The Open Group provides facilitation of the Conciliation and Mediation processes and manages the involvement of any required technical experts to achieve a decision via Mediation.

All efforts are ultimately directed at remedying the customer's issue. However, despite the fact that the customer may instigate Conciliation, the vendors participating need to be able to freely argue their case without the potential fallout from the customer's perception of their argument. Therefore, unless the customer is a vendor, the customer is not a direct participant in the Conciliation and/or the Mediation processes. The vendor(s) do not participate in the Mediation process. The Open Group's representative will represent the customer and will endeavor to keep the customer informed as to progress and timeframes.

The Requester

Customers and vendors with Registered Products in the Interoperability Program are able to invoke the process (the Requester).

The obligation placed upon the Requester is to use the process appropriately-the process is not designed to remedy single customer-vendor conflicts or general support problems.

Vendors can invoke the process if there is evidence of an interoperability issue affecting Registered Products.

Before invoking the Conciliation process, the Requester is required:

The Vendor

Upon application to register a product to a Product Standard that requires the Interoperability Program, a vendor must confirm its acceptance of the procedures of the Interoperability Program. The completion of registration binds the vendor to participate in all aspects of the Interoperability Program for as long as the vendor's product remains a Registered Product.

The vendor is required:

Third Parties

When a third-party product is believed to be materially affecting the interoperability issue, The Open Group will determine whether the specific issue is appropriate for Conciliation and whether the third party should be brought into the process. If contact can be made (that is, an appropriate representative for the product is located), The Open Group will issue an invitation to the third party to participate and will supply a standard non-disclosure agreement for execution by the third party (see Third-Party Participation and Non-Disclosure Agreement ).

If the representative of the third-party vendor executes the non-disclosure agreement with The Open Group and thereby agrees to take part in the Conciliation and/or Mediation process, the third-party vendor becomes part of the specific issue resolution process, and is included in the definition of vendors used herein.

Stepping Through the Process

This section details the process in a time-ordered sequence. The times given in this section are the objectives of The Open Group in facilitating an invocation of the process. The times may be modified by The Open Group after consultation with the parties involved.

Prior to Invocation

All parties are expected to have completed the actions deriving from their responsibilities as defined in the previous sections.

Request for Conciliation

After all normal avenues for issue resolution have been explored, a Requester who is experiencing an interoperability issue between Registered Products may submit a Request for Conciliation to The Open Group.

Determination of Request for Conciliation

Upon formal notification of a Request for Conciliation via email, facsimile, or courier, The Open Group will determine whether the Interoperability Program is appropriate, and will check that the Entry Criteria (see Entry Criteria ) have been satisfied. For this purpose, The Open Group will assign a representative who will determine acceptance of the request within three business days.

Figure: Time to Start the Interoperability Program

If it is decided to refuse Conciliation, The Open Group representative will deliver a report to all parties involved stating the rationale. Further, a summary of the issue and rationale will be published (with identifying information removed) on The Open Group web site at


After taking the decision to enter Conciliation, a team of representatives and experts from the relevant vendors will be formed under the guidance of the representative of The Open Group. For this, the representative of The Open Group will involve the person(s) identified for Conciliation with respect to the Registered Product(s), or their named substitute, from each of the respective vendors.

If The Open Group requires further input to this process (for example, by submission of source code or supporting documentation), the relevant vendors will respond to reasonable requests for further information, provided that they have the right to supply it, at the vendor's own expense, using email, facsimile, or courier. All materials will be held in confidence and The Open Group will not disclose confidential material without written approval from the provider of the relevant materials.

At the request and expense of any vendor involved in the invocation of the process, all confidential material they provide to The Open Group will be returned at the conclusion of Conciliation or Mediation.

The Open Group will provide all relevant, non-confidential information that it has available on this Conciliation request to the representatives of the participating companies, before the start of the Conciliation discussions. The information will include the application to invoke the Program as filled in by the Requester (see Program Application Form ).

Telephone conferences and email, facsimile, or courier communication will be used in preference to actual meetings.

If The Open Group representative needs to travel to any party's site to gather information, he or she will do so on the basis of all reasonable travel costs being refunded to The Open Group with the costs shared equally by the participants, or as otherwise unanimously agreed by all participants, in the Conciliation process.

End of Conciliation

When unanimous agreement of the participants to a recommended resolution for the issue has been achieved, the Conciliation process terminates. The Open Group representative will publish the determined solution, as an Interoperability Recommendation, to the parties involved and (with identifying information removed) on The Open Group web site at

Where no agreement has been reached, Conciliation may be extended for one or more ten-day periods if all parties, including the Requester, unanimously agree to it. At the end of any ten-day extension, all parties, including the Requester, must agree again for any further extension to be approved.

Figure: Time to End of Conciliation


If Conciliation has concluded and a solution has not been found, The Open Group will conduct the Mediation process in good faith to achieve an appropriate solution, unless the Requester explicitly directs The Open Group not to proceed with the Mediation process. The Open Group will render a technical decision within the prescribed period of time using technical experts of its own choosing.

The result of Mediation is an Interoperability Recommendation which will be delivered to the relevant parties via email, facsimile, or courier, with a request for confirmation of receipt, and the result will be published (with identifying information removed) on The Open Group web site at

The Interoperability Recommendation published as a result of the Mediation process may contain an Interpretation of a standard (see the Trademark License Agreement (TMLA), Schedule 4, Paragraph 7). Interpretations may be appealed using the process detailed in the Trademark License Agreement (TMLA), Sub-clauses 4.13 and 4.14. The Open Group may further develop recommendations and clarifications to the underlying technical standards for consideration by the standards revision process.

Figure: Time to End of Mediation


After Conciliation or Mediation is concluded, the affected vendor(s) must provide to the Requester and The Open Group, within 30 days of the publication of the Interoperability Recommendation by The Open Group, their intended handling of the issue and the Interoperability Recommendation.

The Open Group will forward the Interoperability Recommendation to the appropriate specification owner (maintainer) for consideration in formal ratification processes, and to the Requester. The Open Group will also maintain a public database of Interoperability Recommendations (with identifying information removed) containing the relevant information.

Since a decision taken in Conciliation or Mediation potentially has an impact on all products registered to the applicable Product Standard, a bulletin will be published to all vendors who have products registered to that Product Standard notifying them of the issue and including the Interoperability Recommendation published by The Open Group detailing its resolution.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, both customers and vendors, despite participating in Conciliation or Mediation, can still invoke any and all legal remedies, processes, and rights which they may have. Implementation of the Interoperability Recommendation resulting from Conciliation and/or Mediation is not binding on the parties. The Interoperability Program is non-exclusive of other avenues which the parties may have to resolve their interoperability and conformance disputes. Nothing in the Interoperability Program alters any contractual obligation between or among the Requester, Vendor(s), or The Open Group.

Entry and Exit Criteria

Entry Criteria

Before Conciliation or Mediation can be started, the following criteria must be met:

Exit Criteria

The process will terminate if any of the following conditions arise:

Location of Services and Language Requirement

The personnel for Conciliation and Mediation supplied by The Open Group are based at the Reading, England facility and all times and deliberations are relative to that location. The Open Group requires all communication to be in the English language.

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