W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org > October 2001

LT: Re: Comments on the Patent Policy Framework

From: Frank C. Earl <fearl@airmail.net>
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 04:55:02 GMT
Message-Id: <200110010455.f914t2n27079@overdrive.iworld.com>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
This message was posted as a talkback at /news_story.php3?ltsn=2001-09-30-001-20-NW-CY
Janet Daley writes to the LinuxToday discussion regarding the Patent Policy Framework proposed for the W3C...

> Since the publication of Adam\'s article, many Linux Today readers have 
> written to voice disagreement with the current Working Draft of the W3C 
> Patent Policy Framework. 

Yes, and I gave what was, I thought, a moderately rational response, given the amount of time I actually had to respond to this.

> For those of you not familiar with how W3C works: W3C puts documents out for 
> public comment, announces them, and is obliged to respond to questions and 
> critiques. This document was no different; in fact, not only was the 
> document announced on the W3C Homepage six weeks ago, the WG produced both a 
> FAQ and backgrounder, and the announcement was carried on a variety of 
> syndication services which rely on RSS feeds. 

Ok, then how come nobody, and I do mean NOBODY, save the working committee and the W3C noticed or knew about this one?  This has all the feel of a Douglas Adams novel start- whether or not it was intended that way.  There\'s also several problems with the proper protocol for things that your organization does- you\'re skipping steps and shortening the time that things \"normally\" seem to be done for this one.  Why?  And in light of current events going on during this month, I\'d say it\'s pretty shabby to insist that \"we\'ve had enough time\" considering we\'ve all had our minds pretty busy with the events on and after September 11th.

> As of now, many comments sent to W3C\'s Patent Policy Comment list simply 
> say, \"Don\'t!\" By responding in this manner, writers give the Working Group 
> nothing on which to build a constructive response or to consider. Should you 
> decide to comment, I suggest here what you can do to help W3C make the most 
> of your comments, and help it be in a position to act on them:
> 1. Read the draft itself. (You may find the FAQ and backgrounder useful.)
> 2. Provide your comments directed at specific sections of the draft with
>    which you object.
> 3. Ask questions where you find the language of the draft itself unclear.
> 4. If you make philosophical objections, please base it on your reading of 
>    the draft.

I\'d like to also point out that many haven\'t had TIME to respond in a timely manner- and many of the \"DON\'T\" posts say as much.  From what I can tell, over half of the 650+ comments you\'ve recieved had some thought applied and understanding of at least some part of the document in question.  I find exception to the allowance of RAND terms for licensing of patented technologies for supposedly \"open\" standards.  The W3C should be insisting on disclosure of the patents currently in place and in process for all companies involved with the development of the standard.  I don\'t, however, agree with what the comittee considers \"reasonable\" (since they don\'t seem to define what is/isn\'t so...) and \"non-discriminatory\" (again...).  In fact, allowing <i>any</i> fee structure is discriminitory in nature, which contradicts the other portions of the draft.  There is nothing to keep larger groups from getting better licensing terms and even small amounts of money is a defin!
ite bar to getting things done by small companies (I\'m having all kinds of fun trying to justify getting money to support us implementing a recorder/player that interacts with a PBX/VoiceMail system- we\'re implementing an armored PC for use in Eastern Europe with this system.  It runs on Linux and the system\'s using an ITU G.723.1 based codec to record the voice mail.  The cheapest deal we\'ve found for a solution for this situation is $7kUS per developer and $0.95 per box sold.  While we\'ll eventually get to do it, other startups won\'t be able to always manage such details.  They\'re reasonable royalty terms for any medium sized or larger company- but they\'re not reasonable for anyone developing an Open Source/Free software solution or a small business.  And saying that there\'s allowances for free implementations is just that- allowances.  There\'s NOTHING that requires that free implementations are just that- free.  There\'s NOTHING that requires the owners of the a!
lleged IP to maintain the licensing terms as they are- they can change them as they see fit, so long as they\'re \"reasonable\".  Furthermore, there\'s no enforcement of the \"reasonableness\" or \"non-discriminitory\" nature of any licensing since it\'s not defined in the policy.  Furthermore, it\'s such that it would require an expensive lawsuit to prove unreasonable, unfair, or discriminitory licensing of any patents with regards to RAND licensed technology.

> W3C welcomes all comments - critical and otherwise - on its documents. I 
> would say though, that the preference is for substantiated comments. This 
> type of comments leads to action; at the very least, they demand 
> consideration on behalf of the Working Group, as well as a thoughtful 
> response.

Well, I\'d say you\'ve gotten a LOT of thoughtful comments as well as requests for more time in light of the overall response you\'ve seen.  I do hope that the requests will be considered and acted upon.

Frank C. Earl
Earl Consulting Services
Received on Monday, 1 October 2001 00:55:33 UTC

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