IGRS seeks wider co-operation
While executives of many Chinese information tech-nology companies, including software firms, remain silent on the issue of intellectual rights protection, Sun Yuning is a strong supporter of greater safeguards. His advocacy is related to his titles: chief of the IGRS (Internet Grouping and Resource Sharing) working group and vice-president of the research academy at Lenovo Group.
As the IGRS standard which aims to connect electronic devices such as computers, cell phones, and household refrigerators into a seamless network progresses steadily, Sun and his colleagues need greater protection of the results of their development.
The prototype of the IGRS standard was put into place by Lenovo at the end of 2002. It was termed PIPES (proactive, integrated, proper, effective and seamless).
The PIPES system was launched by Lenovo late in 2002 to guide the company's development for the next five to 10 years.
After exchanges with the industry, Lenovo and its partners formed an IGRS standards working group to draft a standard for interconnections between all electronic devices in homes and offices.
In a year, the IGRS group attracted leading Chinese telecoms operator China Telecom, the country's biggest telecoms equipment maker Huawei, home appliance giants TCL and Konka, and research institutes from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Peking University.
With the participation of these elite organizations, many of whom are known globally for marketing and technological capability, the progress of the IGRS standard has been very fast.
The IGRS version 1.0 was submitted in July to the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) as a draft of an industrial standard.
Sun said the draft would probably be submitted to the public for two months for their opinions, and then the ministry would spend another month reviewing the feedback.
He said that the goal for the IGRS working group was to make the standard accepted by the MII and also for it to become an industrial standard this year. The working group will also push for the industrialization of IGRS products.
While Lenovo was almost the only company to promote products embedded with the IGRS protocol last year, Sun said many members are to launch products in the second half of this year, including TV sets, computers, mobile phones, related software and chips.
While some companies regard standardization as a way to exclude foreign competitors from the market or build obstacles for them, Sun said the IGRS working group would adopt an open attitude to international co-operation.
Although the present 29 members of the IGRS working group are domestic or Chinese subsidiaries of foreign companies, Sun said about 10 foreign businesses have applied to join the team.
"I am sure we will have some foreign members this year," said Sun.
At the same time, Lenovo, the only Chinese company among the 19 promotional companies of the digital living network alliance (DLNA) together with global giants IBM, HP, Intel, Microsoft and Sony uses its presence in both organizations to promote co-operation.
Sun said that the DLNA camp focuses on distribution and connections of different media, while the IGRS working group was occupied in intelligent connections, so complementarity should be more important than competition between the two groups.
Standardization working groups in China, South Korea and Japan signed a memorandum of understanding in June to strengthen co-operation about digital home networks.
Looking ahead to the prospects of the IGRS standard, Sun said the Chinese Government wants the IGRS to evolve into an industrial and national standard, but the IGRS working group will measure its success according to its influence in the industry, rather than to make it become an international standard its sole goal.