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Gartner's viewpoint

From: Jason Antony <s1118355@student.gu.edu.au>
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2001 15:10:21 +1000
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-ID: <3BBDCD5B.14065.D522B4@localhost>

Haven't seen this forwarded to the list yet.



Commentary: Standing in way of standards

October 2, 2001, 1:45 p.m. PT

By Kathy Harris, Gartner Analyst

It is a mistake to allow the use of patented technology in standards. 

The point of a standards body should be to share work and come to a 
consensus for the betterment of the industry. Complex issues concerning 
patenting of technology should be considered after mature standards are 
achieved. At the very least, any decisions should be considered case by 

Furthermore, charging for the use of patented technology components (such 
as software, designs and business processes) opens the door to the 
following costly, complex and time-consuming issues:

•Patent ownership: Developing complex standards and their  component parts 
  often requires long periods of time--sometimes years. Participating 
  companies and individuals change frequently, making the "owner" of a 
  patented "kernel" difficult to determine.

•Derivative patents: If a patented kernel is reused, but the  derivative 
  product is largely new, should patents be allowed on derivative products?
  What will be the determinants of new vs. derivative vs. original

•Worldwide differences in patent laws: Europe, for example, is
  considering laws on patenting software. How will the standards and
  patents mitigate regional and national differences in regulation?

•Alternative standards bodies: Choosing to allow payment for patents will 
  inevitably encourage still more alternative standards bodies (by 
  industry, for instance) and domain-specific standards.

•Cost: Payment for use of a standard will likely be a barrier to its 
  adoption by end users and vendors.

•Determining the winning vendors: Patents are typically in the  domain of 
  large companies that can afford to impose their rights on smaller 
  companies. However, large companies often find process knowledge leaking 
  out to small companies started by former employees. The use of patented 
  technology in standards will benefit the larger vendors that have the 
  time and resources to undertake the patenting process.

•Overhead of managing the payment process: The feasibility of  developing 
  a "fair" cost structure is questionable. Is the cost the same for small 
  vs. large users? How will usage be measured? Who will provide the
  oversight of this process? How will the administration be funded?

•Resolution of issues: Determination of infringements or failure to  make 
  adequate payment will be costly and time consuming. The standards bodies 
  will require arbitration and litigation agents. Many issues will not be 
  resolved by this body and will wind up in the court systems. Resolution 
  will take time and diminish standards adoption or enhancement while 

(For a related commentary on a recent W3C recommendation on XML, see 

Entire contents, Copyright  2001 Gartner, Inc. All rights reserved. The 
information contained herein represents  Gartner's initial commentary and 
analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. 
Positions taken are  subject to change as more information becomes 
available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all  
warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. 
Gartner shall have no liability for errors,  omissions or inadequacies in 
the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.
Received on Friday, 5 October 2001 01:10:57 UTC

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