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

Re: SVG ad inf.

From: Chris Lilley <chris@w3.org>
Date: Fri, 05 Oct 2001 20:15:50 +0200
Message-ID: <3BBDF8D6.F77B6F6@w3.org>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org

> From: F J Franklin <F.J.Franklin@sheffield.ac.uk>

> In response to:
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-patentpolicy-comment/2001Oct/0917.html
> 
> > We did call for known patents to be disclosed and we did express a
> > strong preference for RF licensing.
> 
> It is in this 'strong preference' that we *diverge* from agreement!
> The W3C's role should be to *insist* on RF licensing.

We did not have a legal mechanism in place to insist on that. The
disclosures and license agreements were made by SVG working group
members as a good faith gesture, pending approval of the final patent
policy framework.

I understand that the bulk of comments on this list have expressed a
strong preference that W3C should insist on RF licensing.

> > So if you can't get RF from someone you would rather have nothing at
> > all  - ok, fine. I would rather have RAND than nothing at all, because I
> > have seen what 'nothing at all' can mean in practice.
> 
> What is your perspective here? Are you speaking as an individual or as an
> organisation?

As an individual. Specifically, as an individual who was one of the
authors of the PNG format, developed in response to distinctly non-RAND
licensing terms that were imposed on GIF long after it was a mainstream
format.

> If the former, can you as an individual afford RAND
> licensing? 

No. Speaking purely personally, I would not implement something where
there was a patent that had been identified, seemed reasonably certain
to affect the work in question, and for  which the patent holder was
actively seeking fees. But in general this level of precision is not
available.

This is why in my own, personal feedback on this list
http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-patentpolicy-comment/2001Oct/0060.html

I asked that once a specification was at the Proposed Recommendation
stage, the holders of any declared patents be required to pick one of
several choices including withdrawing the patent as unrelated, oferingan
RF license on it, or stating the exact fees to be charged for RAND *and*
the specific sections of the specification that were affected.

> Or are you content to implement only the 95%, say, of the open
> standard that is unrestricted?

If there was a clearly defined 5% that was restricted and a clear
agreement that a particular patent applied to that 5% then it would be
an easy case to answer. However, claims are legal procedures not
technical ones. They do not have the same precision that we are used to
in technical or social subjects.

> The central question here, that I have yet to see addressed (but please
> correct me if I'm wrong), is: Does the W3C intend its licenses to be
> freely implementable by the open source / free software community?

That is the point of the RF license and is why it is essential to be
clear at the outtset of any new work whether the work is to be RF or
RAND (and to provide ample justification of why RAND was chosen, if it
is chosen).

> If the W3C believes it is fair for open source developers to be at a
> disadvantage to big business then please tell us now.

I can best answer that by example. This page lists open source software
written by W3C itself.

  http://www.w3.org/Status

-- 
Chris
Received on Friday, 5 October 2001 14:16:02 GMT

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