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comments on W3C's Patent Policy Framework Working Draft

From: Angelos D. Keromytis <angelos@cs.columbia.edu>
Date: Tue, 02 Oct 2001 13:41:15 -0400
Message-Id: <200110021741.f92HfF209964@coredump.cs.columbia.edu>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org

In response to your recent draft on patent policy, I must express my strong
disagreement with the endorsement of RAND-style standards.

a) Endorsing RAND-style standards does not address any of the stated (or,
   from my point of view, imaginable) threats to the standards process:
   submarine patents can still be used in exactly the same way as they are
   used today. There is no incentive for the holder of a patent to reveal
   the patent to the W3C -- in fact, quite the contrary. RAND standards do
   not offer a solution for this.

   The patent disclosure policy, on the other hand, can be useful.

b) As a result of (a), FUD is not diminished in any way during the standards
   development process. The disclosure provisions protect against insider
   attacks (see Cisco and VRRP in the IETF); on the other hand, nothing
   protects against relevant patents held by entities outside the W3C process.

c) While the W3C is not in the business of maintaining open source software,
   it is a fact that the most popular web server by a large margin is a
   product of open source development. RAND-style standards would make
   development of similar software impossible. There is something to be
   said about maintaining a level playing field.

I hope the W3C will reconsider against a policy that seems to benefit only
holders of large patent portfolios and cross-licensing agreements.

Angelos D. Keromytis
Assistant Professor
Computer Science Department, Columbia University
Received on Tuesday, 2 October 2001 13:43:05 UTC

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