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

"forked" standards base

From: Chuck Adams <scrytch@onebox.com>
Date: Tue, 02 Oct 2001 12:48:37 -0500
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <20011002174837.LDUT28204.mta07.onebox.com@onebox.com>
I will spare all of you my philosophical diatribes against the "land
grab of ideas themselves" that describes the current out-of-control patent
process and offer two simply pragmatic concerns about the current recommendations
on RAND and related issues.  I am commenting as an independent software
developer who is concerned about the possibility of W3C including patented
technologies as part of the standards base.  I am concerned how this
will de-legitimize the W3C as a whole in the eyes of a large portion
of the community, namely the free software community -- potentially losing
the support of developers in and contributing to the Apache Software
Foundation is not entirely in the best interests of the W3C (a more cynical
view would suppose however that hobbling the ASF might be in the best
interests of some of the W3C's commercial members).  Even a $1 fee to
license a critical technology in a product I develop would place requirements
on me to track the spread of intellectual property owned by various vendors
in my product, and worse, remove much of the control I have over my own
IP, not to mention precluding my product from ever being included in
many free software distributions.  I and other developers would be forced
to divide technology recommendations from the W3C into two piles: freely
available, and encumbered.  This impacts goes beyond free software --
as I and others are less likely to develop with encumbered technology,
I might simply opt for a wholly proprietary solution when it is needed,
by virtue of the fact that there is no free alternative at all ... the
cynic again raises the question whether that is after all the intended

Secondly, I must question the necessity.  Is the current standards base
somehow falling the state of the art led by proprietary technologies?
 From where I stand, open royalty-free standards are leading the way
as technology companies rush to catch up, and the W3C is a leader in
setting the pace.  Even in the current economic climate where patents
might bring in extra revenue -- *especially* not in this climate, as
R&D is quite expensive -- no company involved in internet technologies
wants to ostracize themselves out of the W3C by having all their draft
proposals rejected because of IP entanglements.  If the W3C is a truly
independent standards body and not merely a collusion of marketers, it
can stand firm: no 

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Received on Tuesday, 2 October 2001 13:49:11 UTC

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