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Comments on Patent Policy Draft

From: Andrew Fowler <afowler@ncifcrf.gov>
Date: Tue, 02 Oct 2001 13:21:33 -0400
Message-ID: <3BB9F79D.3E185D84@ncifcrf.gov>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
You have listed 3 main parts to your proposal, from your public

1. a requirement for disclosure provisions; 
2. a procedure for launching new standards development activities as
Royalty-Free Licensing Mode activities; 
3. a procedure for launching new standards development activities as
Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (RAND) Licensing Mode activities; 

I fully favor and support points 1 (to prevent a situation similar to
that of Rambus and JEDEC) and 2.  Point 3, RAND licensing, raises a
number of concerns.  I think the definition of what is and isn't RAND
needs to be carefully considered.

1. Who pays the license fee?  Is it the provider who distributes
content, the consumer who receives the content, or both?

2. What is the pricing schedule?  Do all parties pay the same fee?  Is
the fee decided by the size/wealth of the licensing body?  Per use?

3. How does this apply to financially and/or technologically
disadvantaged nations?  Is it RAND for them to pay little or nothing to
use such standards?  If so, is it RAND for those of us in the developed
world to pay more for the same functionality?

4. How will implementation on less mainstream operating systems and/or
in free internet tools and browsers be guaranteed?  For example,
Microsoft and portions of the recording industry are backing digital
content management currently being implemented the the WMA file format. 
However, Windows Media Player development on the Macintosh platform lags
months behind the Windows version, and it is not developed at all on
Linux, BSD, or various proprietary versions of Unix.  Further, the
specification for this format is proprietary and thus not available to
outside developers, essentially relegating this content to users of two
OSes.  How will accessibility be guaranteed for the 5% or so of users
who don't run Windows or the MacOS?

5. Is the means of accessing patented content envisioned as being
hardcoded into a browser, as a third party plug-in or standalone
application, or via some other means?

6. What remedies will be available to parties who are discriminated
against despite the RAND provision?

Given time, I can likely think of more questions, but I think this list
is sufficient to outline my concern over how a standard of "Reasonable
and Non-Discriminatory" will be defined and implemented.  I am not on
principle opposed to the concept of RAND licensing, but I do think there
need to be clear and complete guidelines for implementation and
Received on Tuesday, 2 October 2001 13:22:00 UTC

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