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

We must fork the SVG standard (was: SVGA 1.0 uses RAND -> DO NOT ! implement it, DO NOT ! use it)

From: Joseph Reagle <reagle@mit.edu>
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2001 15:43:29 -0400
To: Daniel Phillips <phillips@bonn-fries.net>
Cc: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <20011003194330.1F3C3873CC@policy.w3.org>
Hi Daniel,

>    result=((1-mask)*source)+(mask*destination).
> So this is an example of the worst kind of patent: a patent on a
> mathematical  expression.  Furthermore, a particularly obvious one
> that many, including  myself, have been using for years prior to 
> the date of Apple's patent.

Ironincally enough, of the patent specifications I've read this one is at 
least understandable! (Often they are either there incomprehensible, or 
comprehensible but obvious. The RSA patent is the sole exception in my 

Regardless, the patent disclosures also state, "The SVG Working Group made 
a concerted effort to produce a specification that does not require  
implementors to infringe the patent." [1].

Unfortunately under the patent system, the patent holder really doesn't 
have much of an obligation to help you determine if you are infringing 
their claims. That's why claims are written so ambigously. Additionally, 
the PTO believes it to be valid and it's your obligation to disprove it. In 
this instance, it doesn't appear that there would be any alternative other 
than *abandoning* SVG, simply because Apple believes they have a patent 
that  *might* apply, or because IBM or Quark might have a patent but are  
unwilling to do the search.

Absent a mechanism to eliminate all software patents or companies' desire 
to use them, I'm not sure what you are advocating. In this instance there 
is a Recommendation that might be encumbered though the design tries to 
avoid it, and if it becomes challenged, it'll have to be resolved in court. 
If the claims stand, then if people that use SVG will have to use a RAND 
license. That's unfortunate, but is this better than not having any SVG at 
all? Should standards organization *stop* because *anyone* alleges 

Your proposal seems to rely upon "forking", which I don't understand. 
Unlike  copyright where you can go off and create  your own version of 
copyrighted software the patent claims still exists and the "forkers" still 
can be sued. The sad thing is they might not even know about it until it's 
too late or in the absense of a disclosure there will even be more FUD or 
discriminatory terms. *This* very thing *has* happened to me.

One can ask that companies dipose of their property under a Royalty Free 
License, or challenge the law/decisions which categorize such ideas as 
property (I support both), but I don't yet understand your proposal.

[1] http://www.w3.org/2001/07/SVG10-IPR-statements.html

[[I will be on holiday October 4-11 2001.]]

Regards,          http://www.mit.edu/~reagle/
Joseph Reagle     E0 D5 B2 05 B6 12 DA 65  BE 4D E3 C1 6A 66 25 4E

* This email is from an independent academic account and is
  not necessarily representative of my affiliations.
Received on Wednesday, 3 October 2001 15:43:39 UTC

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