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Against Patent Policy Framework

From: Michael Hartle <mhartle@hartle-klug.com>
Date: Tue, 02 Oct 2001 15:15:25 +0200
Message-ID: <3BB9BDED.2020603@hartle-klug.com>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Dear Sirs,

I am against the current working draft of the Patent Policy Framework 
and the planned "move [...] to an Advisory Committee Review of a 
Proposed Recommendation draft".

It is often stated that software patents are required by firms to 
protect the efforts spent in research and development. As those firms 
are in a constant process of gathering state-of-the-art technology, 
information and experienced personnel, I believe they have earned an 
advantage regarding commercial application of those techniques that is 
largely non-transferable. As a consequence of this view, I do not think 
of most patents as means of a fair way to finance the development, but 
consider them as potential instruments to control technology and hinder 
competition, especially those arising from free, open source 
alternatives that mostly cannot afford legal measures to protect themselves.

As free, collaboratively developed open source implementations have 
helped to build up a basis for todays open standards, the risk of 
hindering future open source projects and of being left at the pure 
mercy of those who can afford to establish and pay for patents is 
against my understanding of the concept of establishing an open 
standard. Enabling this framework means running the risk of preventing 
public, free development of standards, but choosing among monopolies 
build up by W3C Members. Who ensures that royality-free and 
royality-based licensing modes both remain choices ? Who defines the 
aspect and value of "reasonable, non-discriminatory royalties or fees" ? 
Does reasonable mean adequately-priced for different regions like the 
United States, Europe and Africa ? Who is ensuring the protecting from 
discrimination by patent holders ? Who controls the aspect and who can 
issue sanctions when, for example, a Member is testing or stepping 
beyond the limits ? Will there be any sanctioning at all ? Without 
adequately addressing these issues, this draft is likely to become an 
instrument for W3C Members to control markets and competition by means 
of patents and money.

I am a firm believer that an open standard should also contain the 
freedom of royalities or fees for implementors and subsequent users of 
this standard.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Hartle,
Hartle & Klug GbR
Received on Tuesday, 2 October 2001 09:20:00 UTC

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