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Re: W3C's Response to Public Comments on the Patent Policy Framework Working Draft

From: Ron Arts <raarts@office.netland.nl>
Date: Tue, 02 Oct 2001 11:45:30 +0200
Message-ID: <3BB98CBA.1070508@office.netland.nl>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Dear Sirs/Madams,

I just read your Response to Public Comments on the W3C Patent Policy
Framework Working Draft. And after careful thought I decided I should
send you my comment.

I think it is reasonable that the world community should be protected
from 'submarine' patents suddenly popping up in accepted technology,
this surely constitutes a danger.
Also it is reasonable that IP is protected, in the sense that patent
holders have a right to receive their part of the returns license
holder make through implementing the patent.

On the other hand, by allowing patents  - even in RAND form - into
worldwide standards you create the opening for exactly the same
danger you're trying to prevent, but then achieved by 'legit' ways.
Especially large companies have the means of 'leveraging' their
market power into standards.

Let's try an example: think of microsoft bundling some napster-like
program with Windows, which becomes very widely used of course, due
to it's hegemony on the desktop. This standard becomes accepted and
suddenly the road is closed for opensource programmers to build an
opensource alternative for this program. This is one step to keep
linux totally off the desktop.

Another problem is the low/high level separation. If you look at
the history you will notice that what currently is high-level,
can in a few years be seen as low-level (for example: HTTP used to
be high level but is now included in the linux kernel). Accepting
a high-level standard under RAND may sound reasonable, but will
result in a few years in a low-level standard under RAND.

So what may seem a solution for the submarine patent problem,
will in fact turn out to be a trojan horse on the long run and
will definitely favour large companies above small ones.
I think this even goes against the spirit of the patent system.

I would like to suggest the W3C will embrace and extend the RAND
concept as follows:

change paragraph 5 in the RAND license from:

5. may be conditioned on payment of reasonable, non-discriminatory 
royalties or fees;

into:

5. may be conditioned on payment of reasonable, non-discriminatory 
royalties or fees; may not be conditioned on payment where the
entire implementation is open source.

The non-discriminatory part or RAND now applies only to closed-source
implementations.

Regards,
Ron Arts
CEO Netland Internet Services BV


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Received on Tuesday, 2 October 2001 05:41:48 GMT

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