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

From: Chris Lilley <chris@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001 14:00:15 +0200
Message-ID: <3BBC4F4F.8D2BA65@w3.org>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
CC: phillips@bonn-fries.net

> From: Daniel Phillips (phillips@bonn-fries.net)
> On October 3, 2001 10:34 am, sup sup wrote:
> > http://www.w3.org/2001/07/SVG10-IPR-statements.html
> > Apple, IBM, Eastman Kodak, Quark  use RAND license in
> > SVG 1.0 recommendation. Ignore SVGA until it's RAND
> > clear.

I assume you meant SVG not SVGA. I don't see a lot of evidence of people
ignoring SVG.

> I wish I could say that SVG is only a recommendation at this point, but
> unfortunately, "recommendation" is the W3C word for "standard", just as RFC
> is the IETF's word for standard.

Correct.

> The public review period, if there ever was one, went by quietly:

Please get your facts in order. The public review period of the SVG 1.0
specification (from first public working draft on 11 February 1999 to
end of the Proposed Recommendation period on 16 August, 2001) was *over
29 months*

> Interestingly, the timing of the SVG 1.0 release seems to be closely
> correlated with the proposed change to W3C's patent policy currently being
> discussed.

Yes. We were indeed beta testing the patent policy before it was
publically released. This is why we called for all members of the SVG
1.0 Working Group to disclose all patents that were essential
technology  for SVG, and to say what their license terms were for *all
known and all future patents* that might pertain to SVG.

This is also why there was a publically available patent page about SVG
before the Patent Policy Framework was released (and why, inadvertantly,
there were references to the patent policy document before it was
released). 

In other words, all other implementations of *anything whatsoever* (W3C
spec or not) have *no* gaurantee at all regarding patents. Once could
surface at any time (Like the UniSys GIF patent did) and there is no
prior agreement on licensing terms. They could be very unfair. They
might demand money for each copy of some free software, for example -
dollars per free download. 

For SVG 1.0. most members of the working group agreed to Royalty Free
licensing (a term defined carefully in the Patent policy Framework
document, and an aspect of that document which has been carefully
ignored by those who prefer a good story over a balanced examination of
the facts). That is, RF licensing for all existing and future patents
essential for implementing SVG 1.0. That is a big improvement over many
most other specifications.

Some were unwilling to give such an open ended license. The names of the
companies that were only willing to give a RAND license are listed
publically, and any patents that they have claimed might be essential
are listed there too.

Kodak brought attention to a patent, but once SVG 1.0 was a
Recommendation (so they knew exactly what technology was in it) they
issued a statement that they did not believe thatthe patent was
essential technology for SVG 1.0.

Its also worth noting that Kodak participate in an Open Source
implementation of SVG, Batik (part of the Apache xml project).

Apple notified the working group of a patent a long time ago; the
working group looked at it and was able fairly easily to avoid it. It is
not essential technology for SVG. Apple did not confirm that it was not
essential (they neither confirmed nor denied), because under the current
draft of the PPF they are not required to. I would like to see that
aspect strengthened, in fact, based on feedback from the SVG developer
community.


> Returning to the SVG 1.0 recommendation document:
> 
>     http://www.w3.org/TR/2001/REC-SVG-20010904/
>     "W3C Recommendation 04 September 2001"
> 
> we see that the word "patent" occurs once in it, with a link to this document:
> 
>     http://www.w3.org/2001/07/SVG10-IPR-statements.html

Correct. That is the public list of patents and licensing terms. Note
that no patents are listed for companies that gave a W3C RF license - it
does not matter what patents they have or whether they are needed for
SVG or not. Everyone (not just W3C Members, but everyone, including the
Open Source community) already has a Royalty Free license from those
companies, for the purposes of implementing SVG.

Perhaps you don't recall applying for that license? Thats because you
didn't. There is no paperwork and no signature, nothing. Again, another
inovation from the patent policy Framework that protects Open Source
implementation. A W3C RF license is given implicitly; no-one needs to
ask for it. It is given to everyone in the world by the company
responsible making a W3C RF license and stating that on the patent
license page.

> Now lets just focus on Apple, one of the companies listed as having disclosed
> patent claims and license commitments connected with the SVG standard.

Yes. Good choice, because every other company listed already either
gives a RF license, or gives a RAND license and has no patent claims
regarding SVG.

> 
> In the summary section we learn that:
> 
>     Apple informed the SVG 1.0 Working Group very early in the SVG 1.0
>     process of the patent they listed in their license statement. The SVG
>     Working Group made a concerted effort to produce a specification that
>     does not require implementors to infringe the patent.
> 
> and later, this is elaborated:
> 
>     Apple IPR Statement: 11 July 2001
> 
>     Apple agrees to provide a RAND License (defined below) for
>     all Essential Claims (defined below) in U.S. Patent 5,379,129
>     to implementors of the SVG 1.0 Specification who grant a
>     reciprocal RAND License to Essential Claims for the SVG 1.0
>     Specification. Apple grants no license, either express or
>     implied, to any other patent, patent application, trade
>     secret or other intellectual property right. Apple expressly
>     reserves all rights in its intellectual property.
> 
> There follows a detailed, legalistic statement by Apple which, among other
> things, defines the terms "Essential Claims" and "RAND License". 

Yes. it had to do that, mainly by copy and paste from the PPF, because
there was no public draft of the PPF at that time. If you compare them
you will see that they are strikingly similar ....

> As part of
> the latter definition we see that, according to Apple:
> 
>    A RAND License shall mean a license that:
> 
>    (i) shall be available to all implementers worldwide,
>        whether or not W3C Members;
> 
> Unfortunately, the document that defines Apple's licensing terms is not
> available to the public:
> 
>    http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Member/w3c-svg-pag/2001Jul/0002.html

But a later version is - the PPF. Like I said, we were beta testing
before public release.

> If you or I try to go there we will get a "Sorry, Unauthorized" message and
> learn that we must be an member of the W3C to view the page, and that
> individuals may not become members of the W3C.

Luckily however W3C has a commitment to make publicallyavailable
versions of its specifications available at no charge, so you can in
fact look at the latest version of that specification.

> So, the SVG standard was formalized and includes RAND licencing arrangements
> even though RAND licencing was not an official W3C policy at the time.

Right. RF is better than RAND, but RAND is better than "nothing at all"
which would have been the situation had we not done that.

> Perhaps worse, the licensing arrangements have not been disclosed to the
> public.

Yes, they have.

> In my opinion we have a smoking gun. 

No, you just need to look at the facts a little more clearly and be sure
you are looking at the latest version of any specification.

>  We can see that Apple has already
> abused the concept of RAND licensing, 

Could you clarify the term 'abused' in that context?

> even before the policy was formally
> adopted, and that the W3C's now-formalized SVG standard ("recommendation")
> has already been tainted by that. 

I don't see a lot of taint. I agree it would be better if Apple stated
one way or the other that they atgree with the SVG working group that
thie patent is not necessary (essential technology) for implementing
SVG. But they are entirely compliant with the current public draft of
the PPF in not doing so. If you think there should be a requirement to
clarify whether a disclosed patent is essential or not, once a
specification is sufficiently mature, then I encourage you to submit
that feedback to teh appropriate list. Whwen you do so, you will find
that I have alrewady made a similar suggestion.


> I will not try to be any more specific
> about this, I've presented enough of the bits and pieces of the puzzle so
> that you can form your own opinion.

Yes.

> Adobe was quick to act:
> 
>     http://www.w3.org/Graphics/SVG/Overview.htm8
>     "2001-Sep-27  Adobe released SVG Viewer 3.0 beta 3. Bugs should be
>     reported as the beta period is expected to be short."
> 
> The question that naturally arises is: even though Adobe was nowhwere
> mentioned in the SVG documents, 

Um, Adobe was mentioned on the patent license page that you cited. 

> does Adobe somehow stand to benefit from
> Apple's undisclosed RAND licensing terms?  There is no smoking gun here, but
> there is certainly smoke.

Perhaps you could be less poetic but more direct and describe the smoke
a bit more clearly.


> It is clear what we must do.  We must fork the SVG standard; in its current
> form it is unacceptable.

Youc conclusion does not follow from your arguments, nor does your
proposed solution offer any advantage whatsoever over the current state.

-- 
Chris
Received on Thursday, 4 October 2001 08:00:19 GMT

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