Re: Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA) trademarks
The Schools Interoperability Framework Association (SIFA), based in
Washington, D.C., is a not-for-profit membership association comprising
education software companies, school districts and systems, state
departments of education, and other organizations active in primary and
secondary (pK-12) markets. SIFA members have worked together to develop
a set of rules and definitions to enable software programs from
different companies to share information. This set of platform
independent, vendor neutral rules and definitions is called the "SIF
Implementation Specification", or the "SIF Specification". Software
programs conforming to the SIF Specification facilitate the sharing of
data across programs without additional programming.
The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the trademarks owned by
the Schools Interoperability Framework Association, including:
SCHOOLS INTEROPERABILITY FRAMEWORK
SCHOOLS INTEROPERABILITY FRAMEWORK and Design
SIF CERTIFIED and Design
SIF COMPLIANT and Design
The Schools Interoperability Framework Association also regularly uses
the trade names SIF and SIF Association.
The SIF Association has expended considerable sums developing and
promoting its trade name and trademarks and has developed substantial
good will in connection with their use. In order to protect the good
will associated with the trade name and marks, it is incumbent upon the
SIF Association to police the use of its marks and prevent others from
using marks or trade names that are identical or confusingly similar.
It has come to our attention that you have been using marks that are
identical or confusingly similar to the marks and trade name of the SIF
Association, as shown in the attachments. We appreciate that you may
not have known of the SIF Association marks when you commenced your use
of the same or similar marks. Nevertheless, it is not in the best
interests of either of us to use the same or similar marks. Such use is
also not permitted under U.S. trademark law.
Therefore, we must request your cooperation in adopting alternate marks
that are not identical or confusingly similar to the SIF Association
marks or trade name. The SIF Association also invites you to consider
joining our organization. Members are entitled to use the SIF
Association marks in accordance with association guidelines. For more
information on the benefits associated with membership in the Schools
Interoperability Framework Association, please visit the appropriate
section (vendors, schools, government agencies, partners) at our
website, which is located at: http://www.sifinfo.org.
We trust that you will respect the valuable trademark rights of the SIF
Association and look forward to receiving your written assurances
within the next thirty (30) days. We also hope you will consider
joining the SIF Association to help us promote the benefits of adopting
the SIF Specifications.
Larry Fruth II, Ph.D.
(T)he (C)losed (S)pecification (C)ontrolled (B)y (B)ig (B)usiness
We are glad that you have signed up to be a member of the free SIFA
Community site however on November 10th, , 2005 you were sent the attached
letter when it came to the attention of the SIF Association that you are
inappropriately utilizing "SIF" in products and promotional materials. I am
sure you are aware that as a non-profit membership association that has
expended dollars to protect our intellectual property, we must actively
monitor to ensure proper usage of our investment. Please remove all
references of SIF on your site, products and promotional materials
We invite you to join with us as we developed the highest quality
interoperable specification available to schools, states and vendors across
the US and internationally.
A response and removal is expected within the next 5 business days.
Larry L. Fruth II Ph.D.
Schools Interoperability Framework Association
"Where Innovation and Interoperability Are Standard"
1090 Vermont Ave NW, 6th Floor
Washington, DC 20005
There will need to be a process to certify compliance with the open standard,
but it surely shouldn't cost $35000
( http://www.sifinfo.org/sif-certification.asp#3 ) - that is just taking the
BTW, anyone know anything about this:
On Tuesday 16 May 2006 17:17, ga...@scholarpack.org wrote:
What on earth do they consider to be a *closed* standard then?
If they don't make allowances for non-profits them we may have to vote
with our feet. However compliance may not be optional.
Give me a ping when you're done with this.
Seriously, it is all well and good to talk about how this ought to be
done, and if you've got the time to do it, fantastic. If not, there's
no point in getting riled up about another *still entirely vaporous*
project that nobody is twisting your arm to work on anyhow.
> The SIF is aimed at maintaining business control of education markets
> and not at freeing schools to have total control of their own data.
There is no way you can claim that SIF gives businesses *more* control
than they would have without it. You can claim that they don't have
much motivation to really invest their own developer time in its
success, or that they're generally doing a half-assed job of it, but
more interoperability is better for users and open source developers.
It is a proprietary SIF agent for Moodle.
The $35000 figure is the "you have no choice but to become a member"
non-member price. $3500 is the price for members ($4000/yr.). Are
these prices aimed at open source projects? No. They're reasonable
for the corporate members, and for that matter, government agencies.
The question is, do we need to be certified? No. If we made up our
own spec there would be no certification anyhow. Besides, I am sure
if we got to the point where we had working SIF agents and a server,
we could get funding for certification.
It is the least of our worries, really.
While this is annoying, it is hardly surprising or unprecedented.
Ever hear of "Gnu's Not Unix?" These kind of trademark disputes have
been something free software has worked around for years.
Lest I come across as a complete apologist for all things SIF, I
concur that Edustructures have been extremely bad actors in this whole
I agree, It is interesting that they would pull this on something that works
with, not competes with. But then again when you look at the big picture
open source software is working against the board.
2005-2006 SIFA Board of Directors Members
Mitch Benson, Chief Technology Officer
Shawn Bay, CEO
White Plains, NY
Steve Curtis, Chief Operating Officer
South Jordan, UT
John Graff, President
Parlant Technology, Inc.
Douglas Hamlin, President
VersaTrans Solutions, Inc.
Michael Jay, President
Mary McCaffrey, President
PowerSchool, a division of Apple Computing, Inc.
Richard Seidner, Dir K12 Education
David Brower, Manager Academic Market
Bethann Canada, Dir Ed Info Management
Virginia Department of Education
Patrick Plant, Director of Technology
Anoka-Hennepin School District, Ed Service Center
Coon Rapids, MN
Tim Magner, Director Office of Ed Technology
US Department of Education
ESP Solutions Group
Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Menlo Park, CA
I don't say that you are. This letter I received via email this morning made
me a little mad. I have 5 days to come up with a response and quit using the
words SIF, Schools Interoperability Framework etc on anything that has to do
with this project. While I may respond with the required "yes, sir I was bad
and I apologize big business" I will not stop this project. Or I may not, I
have not decided what I want to do with this yet. Its on sifsoft.com now as
the only page you can see so I may just leave that page up for the next few
years and post additions.
So what that means is we will still have a Open Zone Integration Server and
Open Software Agent Development Kit developed its just how much information
will be available to the "public". I can not afford 4k to membership a year
so its out of the question. Hell I can barely afford to feed my family and
my minivan, so I refuse to pay to play. Does this mean I wont play nope. I
just wont play publicly till I have a finished product. Then I say if they
want to litigate okay.
Anyways I am rambling little distorted and disjointed by the whole thing.
>Seriously, it is all well and good to talk about how this ought to be
>done, and if you've got the time to do it, fantastic. If not, there's
>no point in getting riled up about another *still entirely vaporous*
>project that nobody is twisting your arm to work on anyhow.
You seem to have being doing a great deal of talking about SIF so why
can't I talk about the way i believe is the true way forward in UK
without getting knocked for it?
Yes, I have been working on this and now have a MIS fully compliant
with CBDS and CTF and with the ability to import complete data sets
from SIMS, Integris, et al. And it uses a standards compliant
relational database for which I will be releasing the schema and data
dictionary in due course.
>There is no way you can claim that SIF gives businesses *more* control
>than they would have without it.
The word was 'maintaining' and yes I can claim this because this is
exactly what will happen.
ianal, but I don't think there is anything wrong with stating that a
project *which doesn't use SIF in the name* is an uncertified SIF
implementation. I think there is a reason that Mono isn't called
"Free .Net," but that doesn't mean they can't say that Mono is a
project to create an implementation of .Net.
My friend Steve Midgley has also been talking to the SIF folks about
open source impementations (which for all I know, might have also
drawn attention to your renewed site...). I could have him ask them
exactly what the ground rules would be. He works for a foundation so
he's good for that sort of thing ;-)
Ground rules would be great I don't want to step on toes especially big
toes. But at the same time I wont shut down my project just because someone
or something does not like the premise.
At the risk of wearing out the patience of our colleagues in the UK...
just let us know if we need to start an open source SIF in the US
Anyhow, this is something Steve and I need to figure out independently
of you, so we could keep your name out of it.
[Matt] Yeap, just keep me in the loop please
> You seem to have being doing a great deal of talking about SIF so why
> can't I talk about the way i believe is the true way forward in UK
> without getting knocked for it?
I'm sorry for being pissy.
> Yes, I have been working on this and now have a MIS fully compliant
> with CBDS and CTF and with the ability to import complete data sets
> from SIMS, Integris, et al. And it uses a standards compliant
> relational database for which I will be releasing the schema and data
> dictionary in due course.
It is great that you've achieved this, and any running code that
improves interoperability is an asset to everyone.
However, the next step: "What we need to do is define
other data objects used in schools, not yet defined in the above specs.
Then decide on one database server to use, and all products then use a
single data store" Is the big one.
Which is why I agree with the ZIS idea, then the applications are data store
independent and the ZIS vendor
Can determine a data store of the ZIS information and not worry about what
application is using what and the
Applications don't care what the other is running.
I'm working for a school district in Southern Oregon, where we're faced
with ever-increasing demands from state and federal governments to
report more and more of our data in many different ways*. At the same
time, our resources for performing these functions are tied up in the
minutae of wrangling multiple systems and keeping things in sync. We
need something to come along and help us, and SOON.
I've said that I'm disappointed in the SIF organization before. Their
website is full of marketing information and very little technical
detail. They spend too much effort on maintaining the status quo: a
dangerous proposition from any standpoint.
However, running a quick mental list of the things in our next year's
infrastructure set slated to support SIF, I come up with the following:
PowerSchool, Follett Library Catalog, Accelerated Reader, Renaissance
Place, Infinite Visions Financial Software. To tie this stuff together
in any automatic fashion would be utter bliss.
These things all already need and have their own database backends. We
don't need another data store (referring to Garry's plan). We need a
ZIS that I can download and try out TODAY, without going to my business
department to get through the purchasing process. And I'm sure we're
not the only folks in that boat. And I'm also sure that I'm not the
only person willing to help make it happen.
Unfortunately, it looks like to make this happen, my school district
must purchase a commercial ZIS, or else write a fully functioning ZIS
in a month, so it looks like I'd better start working on my business
case for this purchase.
Now, once I have a zone in place, I'd be really, really interested in
having something like an open source agent development kit for
exploring SIF to the fullest extent.
I want this project to move forward, and I will do what I can to make
sure it does, because Matt is doing what he can, which, given the
situation, is the most that could be asked of anyone.
I also want to see this project managed like a proper Open Source
project: It needs a wiki, it needs a subversion repository, it needs to
be distributed and distributable. It needs to be released early and
released often. It probably doesn't need a domain, or a specific name,
or $35,000 to be raised for SIF Compliance Testing. It does, however,
need to be transformed into something that can be made into light work
of by many hands.
I've been researching SIF for 2 or 3 days now and I'm convinced that
it's the right way to move our district's data program forward, and I
want there to be an open source option in the future.
Here's my small initial contribution: I'm probably going to get a
nastygram for the URL, just like Matt, but I basically don't care,
because it's temporary: http://sifinfo.pbwiki.com/ -- actually, I'm
adding a disclaimer about the trademark right now, which is all anyone
is legally obligated to do, AFAIK.
PS: Do other state governments require as much information in reports
as Oregon? I've never had occasion to handle reporting in any other
state, but it seems like an awful lot to ask! What about the UK?
I think we get off quite lightly in comparison.
Sounds like just the sort of association we should all rush out and
join! This is an open specification right? The SIFA is a member of the
Open Group right? Pay to get a certification mark that impresses
customers maybe. But not to implement or access the spec. So, no one
should need to be joining any association full stop.
Nor should anyone need to beg dispensation just because they are a poor
little open source thing with principals.
Nor in my opinion should any of our governmental agencies be signing
agreements with such associations. But that is perhaps beyond this
I'd agree with Gary and just walk away from anything to do with SIF if
it wasn't for the fact that this is being signed up to by European
goevernments. And I don't believe they'd be signing up to anything that
wasn't going to be freely accessible to all concerned parties. But maybe
that last line of faith needs verifying. I'd like to hear answers to
this from the bodies concerned.
>These things all already need and have their own database backends. We
>don't need another data store (referring to Garry's plan).
I did not mean 'another' data store. I mean one data store that all the
other bits of software can use, replacing all the other data stores. A
single data store per institutution.
However, this is the simplest, cheapest and most logical solution so no
it will be overlooked ;-(
That is a technique used by single vendors with integrated products but
would mean that every single extant MIS type program will have to be
rewritten to use the common schema. That would not be just back end but
also the users view of the data and thus UI. The schema must support all
applications data needs and will only work if all programs have very
similar data models. That may work if you start of with the common
format and can get all to change.
The alternative is for each application to convert to/from the common
format. It then it doesn't matter if it is a shared database or not as
data can move around in the lingua franca and be converted on the fly.
That is where SIF is at AFAIKS.
ODF is a good example of some the issues, with a plugin now available
for MS Office to convert formats along side apps that natively speak
ODF. Note that most office applications have very similar data models so
it is perhaps a simpler problem.
You might also like to look at the semantic web which is another
approach to dealing with the complex issue of matching schemas (well