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

Patents Policy

From: <darrylb@iprimus.com.au>
Date: Thu, 4 Oct 2001 16:29:35 +1000
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-ID: <3BBC8E6F.30356.1ADE5221@localhost>
I am writing to record my strong opposition to the incorporation of 
patented technology within web standards.  Many of my reasons 
for this opposition have been included in other submissions from 
free software advocates, and I do not propose to repeat all of them 
here or make an in depth submission.  My major concern is the 
effect that the incorporation of such technologies would inevitably 
have on "free" software which has to date served the web so well.  
The very nature of "free" software makes payment of royalties all 
but impossible in respect of most projects, and is irreconciliable 
with most of the free software licences, for instance the GPL.

I would point out that I am not myself against protection of 
intellectual property nor am I anti-Microsoft.  I believe that there is a 
place for both free and proprietory software.  However, I do not 
believe that the place for proprietory technology is within standards, 
thereby forcing all complying products to make use of and pay for 
the use of that technology.  If a proprietory technology is good 
enough, I submit that it would likely succeed on the web 
irrespective of standards.  For example, products such as "Real 
Player", "Flash" and "Acrobat" flourish now, apparently without 
being incorporated into web standards.

Adoption of this policy will result in the inability of "free" software 
products to fully comply with standards, and De Facto will force all 
users wishing full functionality to use proprietory products which 
include in the price an appropriate component for Royalties, 
irrespective of whether the end user requires some or all of the 
particular functionality concerned..  Standards bodies such as your 
own may also find themselves in the position of choosing from 
competing proprietory technologies in a situation where success 
for one results in a huge competitive advantage.

Continuing the present policy may result in some areas remaining 
ungoverned by standards, but this would seem to be a small price 
to pay.  Excellent proprietory technologies for which there is a 
demand will, I expect, continue to flourish on the Web.  Users will 
be forced to either pay for the functionality if they wish to utilise it 
or will have it provided free of charge by proprietors who see an 
advantage in so doing.  In other words, a continuation of the 
present status quo.

I would also point out that some "free" software advocates have 
already brought up the possiblity of the existence of two webs and 
an alternate standards body in the event that the proposal 
proceeds.  This is a situation which I would hate to see develop 
and which I do not believe would be in the best interests of the end 

I sympathise with your position in relation to the problems which 
have arisen and there certainly is a need to identify potential 
problems with Patents.  However, I do not believe that the 
incorporation of proprietary technology into standards is justified or 


Darryl Barlow
Darryl Barlow (darryl@jacovou.com.au)
Jacovou Barlow & Associates
Level 3, 34 MacMahon Street Hurstville  NSW  2220
P.O. Box 416, Hurstville B.C. 1481
Telephone:  61 2 9580 6111  Facsimile 61 2 9580 7711
Received on Thursday, 4 October 2001 03:31:28 UTC

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