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

Problem with a point-by-point response

From: Leon Brooks <leon@brooks.smileys.net>
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 21:34:04 +0800
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <20011001133345.DAD251890@mail.firestation.fdns.net>
The point I want to respond to doesn't exist in the main document, the 
closest approach is section 2.1 and the corresponding FAQ sections [2-2] 
through [2-4] actually come closer to addressing it.

There is no mention of two important classes of IP, namely:

* IP that is so common that it is not acceptable to treat it as property,
  per se, like the wheel, the doorstop or the brick; and

* IP which has been donated, in various ways, to the greater common
  good, the commonwealth. Prominent examples include the TCP/IP
  network layer, EMACS and FreeBSD, or for something more tangible,
  electrical transformers, television and chlorination.

Inclusion of these two subsections of IP alongside the private definitions is 
vital to a balanced picture of how IP operates, and would completely alter 
the entire patent document.

W3C has had significant success in defining common methods of addressing 
these two forms of IP, in fact you could call it the W3C's core business. W3C 
is a world leader in this field.

Patents and the like are invasive: the presence of an unpatented idea doesn't 
prevent you from altering it and patenting the altered idea, but the presence 
of a patent DOES prevent you from altering an idea and using it unpatented.

This infection must inevitably corrupt and undermine W3Cs activities as it is 
doing for the IETF, and so also corrupt and undermine the digital 
commonwealth, if it is allowed into contact with public standards.

By nature, patents make an idea private. So be it: let the company involved 
be responsible for establishing and maintaining common practice around the 
patented thing, NOT the W3C.

When you factor in axiomatic IP and public IP, it should become obvious that 
this is the IP domain, and patents are incompatible with it. I can't see how 
you would be able to sensibly reconcile Section 2.1 with this deeper 

Cheers; Leon
Received on Monday, 1 October 2001 09:33:55 UTC

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