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

Patent Policy Threatens Advancement

From: Jonathan Kennedy <Jonathan.Kennedy@BillServ.com>
Date: Tue, 2 Oct 2001 14:30:09 -0500
Message-ID: <E343201F1F5AD411B2350004AC4CB3420193B52B@www.securebills.com>
To: "'www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org'" <www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org>
Patent Policy Working Group;

I would like to start of by saying that I am pleased to see that, in the W3C
response, you acknowledge the importance of the open source community and
individual developer in the evolution of what is now the Internet. However,
I disagree immensely with the assertion that continued and substantial
growth may only come from a change in policy to use patented technologies. I
also disagree that the W3C may sidestep the important ideological debate
behind the exists of patents in general. The decisions you are faced with
making are those decisions that will best benefit the entire community.
Whether or not allowing patent enforcement best meets those goals is the
same question posed by the original lawmakers. However, instead of entering
an ideological debate I will only speak to the empirical evidence as it
pertains to the Internet. 

Firstly, the W3C itself acknowledges the importance of the Open Source
community in making the web what it is today. Not only is the Open Source
community to be acknowledged, but ever first time web developer that
contributed his part to the overall wealth of content available on the web.
It was the availability of unlicensed technology that made this possible. If
the telnet, FTP, or HTTP protocol had been patented during inception, they
would have been quickly abandoned in favor of other unencumbered
technologies. It has been observed time and time again that the industry
will not support a communication medium that you must pay to use. The HTTP
standard was observed for the very reason that it did allow everyone to
communicate freely and without hindrance. To entrench yourself in a system
under the pretense of free and open communication and then drastically
change the rules is an extremely irresponsible practice. In fact, those
encumbered standards that have been adopted by the community today have
largely been because of an existing entrenchment of technology; not because
of the objective validity of the standard. If the W3C tried this during its
earlier years, the industry would have abandoned it. It is also questionable
whether or not the W3C is indeed entrenched enough in the current system to
be immune to an aggregate industry backlash.

Secondly, we should take a look at the growth of the Web and the Internet
today. The technologies being produced continue to expand on the content and
quality of services provided without the need to introduce patent
endorsement into public specification. To do so would not only limit the
amount of technology being produced but would serve to further curtail the
education of the masses who are trying to enter the industry. We must ask
ourselves if the Internet really requires that public standards
organizations endorse patented technologies. Most of us believe that answer
to be no; the web will continue to experience continued growth without such
action on the part of public standards bodies. In fact, we can see today how
the prolific and unrestrained issuing of patents has actually disrupted the
business of meaningful contributors to the industry (For example: The
one-click shopping nonsense).  If the W3C were to actually endorse the use
of patented technologies, it would only serve to promote this current trend
of abuse.

The W3C also makes reference to other large standards entities in an attempt
to justify this new policy. Specifically, in section 4 of the W3C public
response, you cited section 10.3.2 of IETF's Internet Standards Process.
However, one should make note of the preceding section (10.3.1) that
outlines the rules of contribution. 
	l. Some works (e.g. works of the U.S. Government) are not subject to
copyright. However, to the extent that the submission is or may be subject
to copyright, the contributor, the organization he represents (if any) and
the owners of any proprietary rights in the contribution, grant an unlimited
perpetual, non-exclusive, royalty-free, world-wide right and license to the
ISOC and the IETF under any copyrights in the contribution. This license
includes the right to copy, publish and distribute the contribution in any
way, and to prepare derivative works that are based on or incorporate all or
part of the contribution, the license to such derivative works to be of the
same scope as the license of the original contribution. 
I have personally observed no such verbiage within the proposed W3C Patent
Policy that indicates the sincere preference to use only technologies that
are freely available for implementation by all. Such mentality can be cited
frequently throughout the IETF draft.

I again respectfully request that the W3C decide against the addition of the
proposed Patent Policy.

Jonathan Kennedy
Programmer/Analyst - SIG Development

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Received on Tuesday, 2 October 2001 15:32:42 UTC

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