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Patent Policy

From: Kurt Cagle <kurt@kurtcagle.net>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 22:27:10 -0700
Message-ID: <00aa01c14a39$b843b1c0$58ceadd8@liban>
To: <www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org>
The domain and purpose of the W3C has been the promulgation of OPEN standards that can be readily adopted by any party without fear or concern that such standards will place legal requirements or restrictions on the user or developer. The intent of the Patent Policy is apparently to terminate this, which I think in the long run will be extremely counterproductive to the legitimacy of the W3C in any futures deliberations.

Standards are not, and should not be, predicated upon a licensing fee. Such a mechanism basically states that the only agencies that really have any significance are the fairly limited domain of application software developers, rather than the hundreds of millions of developers that use these standards every day. Moreover, it brings many of the conflicts and political infighting that so characterizes market forces into the W3C arena, a body that is best served not by introducing competition (which tends in turn to make it harder to establish standards) but rather by fostering cooperation in an open arena that provides at least a modicum of democratic action (providing smaller companies the same ability to work on the various working groups as the larger bodies).

The danger of making patented materials an integral part of the W3C structure is that it makes it all too easy for a company that feels that it is not getting a standard appropriate to it to introduce a patent into the process; even if the patent itself is ultimately overturned the discovery process and time for the patent involved can be used ultimately to either destroy or significantly disable most, if not all, standards that the W3C has worked hard to achieve.

Please do not take this step. It is important to remember that while companies may have representatives working on the standards, it is these individuals, and not the companies for which they work, that are the real strength of this process. By weakening the standards themselves, you undermine the credibility of the W3C, alienate a growing legion of developers throughout the world who work hard to evangelize, promote, and develop these standards, and in the end gain nothing but discord and dissension.

Kurt Cagle
Senior Consultant, NetObjectives
Received on Monday, 1 October 2001 01:30:14 GMT

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