Named Data Networking Consortium

A Collaborative Effort to Promote and Sustain the NDN Future Internet Architecture

Related documents:


Named Data Networking is a Future Internet Architecture research project supported by the National Science Foundation, which has received over $13.5M in funding from NSF over 2010-2016. UCLA Professor and Jonathan B. Postel Chair in Computer Science Lixia Zhang leads the project along with Internet Hall of Fame inductee and UCLA adjunct professor Van Jacobson. The NDN project is developing a new fundamental architecture for the global Internet that leverages thirty years of empirical evidence of what has worked (and what has not). It aims to provide a practically deployable set of protocols replacing TCP/IP that increases network trustworthiness and security, addresses the growing bandwidth requirements of modern content, and simplifies the creation of sophisticated distributed applications.

This UCLA-led project involves universities across the United States—eight of which are funded by NSF in 2014-2016, operates an international network testbed, has attracted significant attention across the world, and includes research collaborations with Cisco, Qualcomm, Comcast, Verisign, and Panasonic. In addition, Intel, Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent, and Orange all have significant projects exploring NDN-related ideas. More information on NDN can be found on the project website,

Benefits of an NDN Consortium

To be successful as the next generation architecture for the Internet, NDN must be the subject of widespread experimentation by many organizations across the world. As the success of the current Internet is widely attributed to the openness of its core protocols, so must NDN-related research be conducted within an open innovation model and without fear of proprietary intellectual property claims on its core elements. The NDN consortium will provide the following:

  1. A clearly identifiable organization to promote a vibrant open source ecosystem of research and experimentation around Named Data Networking by providing developer support tools, organizing community meetings, generating outreach activities, hosting working groups for both industry verticals and cross-cutting activities, as well as providing general communication and legal support not typically funded through sponsored research.
  2. An advocate for a transparent, consistent model to preserve and promote the openness of the core NDN architecture, in which participants agree voluntarily to license protocol and interoperability-related advances for use by the community with a degree of confidence that other participants will do the same[1];
  3. Enhanced access to research results at the NDN-NP (“Next Phase”) academic institutions through meetings, workshops and other activities for the consortium;
  4. Evidence of the project’s increasing maturity and research activity for industry and government partners, which is critical for its planned outreach for larger-scale research support;
  5. An opportunity to provide academic partners with an umbrella for coordination independent of individual sponsored research projects; our expectation is that, at a minimum, the existing NSF-funded academic collaborators would be part of the consortium.

With NDN, UCLA already leads one of the most widely recognized research projects on the future of the Internet. Both UCLA and the UC system have been at the forefront of transformative advances in computing that emerged from an open innovation model while at the same time generating significant industry and government support (BSD Unix and the Arpanet). NDN presents a new opportunity to continue this public role in collaboration with other leading universities and for our partners to support this exciting research program.

Membership Cost

The annual membership fee for for-profit corporations in FY2014 will be $25k (with voting rights). NDN “Next Phase” (NP) project academic participants will pay no fee. Other educational institutions and non-profit research organizations may join the consortium at no cost (without voting rights) or at $25k (with voting rights).   Membership will be open to all organizations that are interested in NDN.

Fiscal Sponsorship

For FY2014, the NDN consortium funds will be managed by UCLA. The mode of contribution will be a gift (to UCLA), which carries only 6.5% overhead.   The consortium may in the future become an independent 501(c)(6) organization.


Members will all sign the same multi-party consortium agreement. PIs for the funds held at UCLA will be the management team listed below. Activities of the NDN consortium will be steered by an Advisory Board of its members, which will set policy and elect officers to execute the consortium’s activity. Board members include: the NDN-NP management team, one PI from each NDN-NP campus not represented on the management team, one voting representative (and one alternate) from each paying industrial or academic member.[2] The board is expected to meet twice a year, in a forum open to all consortium participants and invited guests.


As funding allows, initial staffing for the consortium will include: A part-time or full-time program manager and member liaison; development support (which may include subcontracts to organizations such as the Linux Foundation); part-time administrative staff; retained services such as legal counsel and public relations.

Intellectual Property

The NDN consortium exists to promote NDN-related activities as described above and will not require any intellectual property commitments by its members nor will membership provide any license to intellectual property of the participation institutions. The intellectual property statement by the NDN NP organizations made as part of their funded NSF proposal is included as Exhibit A.  We expect that an initial activity of the consortium will be to generate specific recommendations on software licensing and intellectual property approaches within the NDN research community.

 Contact Information

For more information, please contact:

  • Jeff Burke, Co-Principal Investigator / Consortium POC (UCLA).  e-mail.
  • Kim Claffy, Co-Principal Investigator (UCSD).
  • Van Jacobson, NDN Architect, Co-Principal Investigator (UCLA).
  • Beichuan Zhang, Co-Principal Investigator (University of Arizona).
  • Lixia Zhang, Principal Investigator (UCLA).

Public Statement on NDN’s Intellectual Property Approach

As submitted to the National Science Foundation by the NDN NP academic team

NSF required that each proposal to the “Future Internet Architecture: Next Phase” program included a statement on intellectual property.   The following statement was included in the proposal to NSF for funding in 2014-2016 by UCLA, UCSD, the University of Arizona, the University of Memphis, Colorado State University, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, University of Michigan, and Washington University in St. Louis. It is available on the project’s website.

Intellectual Property Approach: Copyright and Patents

Our team believes that NDN is a viable architecture for the future of the Internet. As such, protecting its availability to all who would use it as the basis for innovation is extremely important. We agree with the principles expressed by the Mozilla Foundation in their statement of values, in particular the following:

  • The Internet is a global public resource that must remain open and accessible.
  • The effectiveness of the Internet as a public resource depends upon interoperability (protocols, data formats, content), innovation and decentralized participation worldwide.
  • Free and open source software promotes the development of the Internet as a public resource.
  • Transparent community-based processes promote participation, accountability, and trust.
  • Commercial involvement in the development of the Internet brings many benefits; a balance between commercial goals and public benefit is critical.

We believe that NDN, as a proposed Future Internet Architecture, must adhere to the same philosophy of openness that has made the existing Internet architecture both wildly successful and a fundamental advance of our lifetimes.

By openness, we mean that the standard protocols and algorithms that are the common language or “thin waist” of the future internet must be unencumbered by intellectual property claims, as has been the case for the TCP/IP protocols, HTTP, HTML, and other key components on the current Internet.

Our approach emphasizes an open source ethos for the architecture and key mechanisms, as well as the research process, but does not intend to restrict the commercialization of innovation by the project team or others. Our collaboration and management plan describes possible approaches to future governance over NDN as an open source project. Here we describe our intent for intellectual property generated in the course of this research effort.

Copyright and Licensing Approach

Copyright will be held by the author(s) and/or their institutions, per institutional policy.

  • Software developed with funding from this program will be made available under one of the open source licenses listed by the Open Source Initiative. In particular, the “reference implementations” will use LGPL, Apache, BSD, or similar, to enable incorporation in both open and closed source projects.
  • Documentation and technical reports will be made available under a similar open source or Creative Commons license.
  • Papers and other publications will be made available on the NDN site when allowed by the publisher.

Patent Approach

As in our previous FIA project, each institution may file patent applications on new inventions arising from the research, according to usual practice. New and existing IP may require licensing for commercial use. We do not expect IP issues to negatively impact the research conducted by the collaborating institutions in this project. Project team members may collaborate with industry and others to develop protectable IP that can spark new markets and increased interest in NDN.

However, the full potential of named data networking can only be realized through a core set of protocols that are open and cost-free. Thus we will continue to publish as much as possible in peer-reviewed papers, technical reports and protocol specifications on our web site, and open source reference software implementations. For guidance, the team will rely on current practices in the free and open source software (FOSS) community, including possibly formalizing a patent policy similar to that of W3C2.


[1] The NDN team’s commitment to making core protocol and reference implementations available, and to promoting an open and cost-free core as the only viable approach for the next internet architecture is described in Section A. While the consortium agreement does not itself enforce IPR commitments, we believe that building agreement through the consortium about what should constitute an open core is a critical next step for NDN.

[2] Board responsibilities and makeup in subsequent years will be refined in the first year of operation.