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Re: Is Apple's patent valid?

From: Chris Lilley <chris@w3.org>
Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001 15:11:50 +0200
Message-ID: <3BBC6016.33D1A14D@w3.org>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
CC: Glenn Randers-Pehrson <glennrp@home.com>

> From: Glenn Randers-Pehrson <glennrp@home.com>
> >Adam Warner wrote:
> >I intended to point out that this patent had caused an issue in the
> >development of the SVG specification. This is what 30+ hours sans sleep
> >does to my memory.
> 
> It REMAINS an issue.  Look what the presence of Apple's refusal to offer
> RF does to Adobe's offer (from the above-referenced URL):
> 
> In the event that all current members of the SVG 1.0 Working Group agree to negotiate Royalty-Free Licenses (as defined below) under any Essential Claims (as defined below) reading on the Specification to make, use, sell, offer for sale or import portions of implementations required by the Specification, Adobe Systems Incorporated and its affiliates (collectively, "Adobe" or "Member") agree to negotiate Royalty-Free Licenses on such terms. In the event that such members do not so agree, Adobe agrees to negotiate such licenses on a RAND License (as defined below) basis. Adobe expressly reserves all rights it may have in any of its intellectual property.

As other people have also pointed out, this is unclear. My understanding
had been (from talking with Adobe before they made their statement) that
Adobe were happy to give RF license to anyone, including the general
public and WG members who also gave RF. Their issue was with other WG
members who gave RAND. This is perhaps because, in the beta draft of the
PPF, the reciprocity clase was not as clear as it is now, I don't know.
Anyway they were trying to define their own reciprocity - RF to those
who give RF, RAND to those who give RAND.

The Patent Policy Framework makes reciprocity a condition of both RAND
and RF. In other words, if you give an RF licence but someone sues *you*
for patent infringement for your SVG implementation, then the terms of
your RF license to *them* have been breached and you can sue the suer
back for a whole bunch of patents that you might have and to which
everyone in the world (except the suer, and companies that gave RAND
licenses) has a royalty free license.

> Apple's patent, however ludicrous, enables Adobe and most of the other
> contributors to renege on RF licensing.

Thats not true.  The SVG patents page gives eleven companies who were
members of the SVG working group in good standing at the time we tested
out the PPF, towards the end of the SVG 1.0 timeframe. Of those, seven
gave RF licensing. Two gave RAND but identified no patents. Two gave
RAND and identified patents. Of those, one made a statement that the
patent was not essential and one (Apple) made no statement.

Can you explain how this allows "most" to "renage" on RF licensing to
the world at large?

I make that distinction because, if Apple were to sue any of the
companies who gave a RF license, Apple would be breaking the RF license
contract with that company and those companies would be able to
counter-sue Apple for any patents that they might have. But Apple has
not done that so i don't see how anyone is enabled to renage on RF
licensing.

> 
> Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and I have only read the abstract of
> Apple's patent, which only describes ideas that are fully described
> in earlier literature such as the classic Foley and van Dam textbook
> and in the Porter-Duff article referenced in the SVG spec.

I encourage you to read the full text which was posted to this list,and
then give your opinion on the ideas there.

I agree that F&vD is a good early source for the general concept of
compositing and that both F&vD and Porter-Duff are indeed cited in the
SVG specification.  Porter-Duff dates from 1984 and fully describes
alpha compositing. US patent 5379129 was filed on May 8, 1992 and was
granted on January 3, 1995. It cannot, therefore, assuming prior art
means anything, be patenting *general* alpha compositing.

> I agree with the suggestion that SVG 1.0 be withdrawn or suspended,
> pending resolution of this patent discussion.

Your conclusion does not follow as a logical consequence of your
arguments.

-- 
Chris
Received on Thursday, 4 October 2001 09:11:53 GMT

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