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

patents in W3C standards

From: <chtodd@core.com>
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2001 13:53:50 -0500 (CDT)
Message-Id: <200110051853.NAA81920@nm1.nwbl.wi.voyager.net>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Cc: chtodd@core.com
Having read many articles in which I see discussions about
the W3C standards body considering a RAND policy for future
standards.  A couple things bother me about the process I have
seen so far:
 o submarine patents, as you have called them
 o the path that a future revision of a recommendation is closely
   dictated by the patent holders instead of the W3C board members
 o royalty payment-required for using a patented technique, whether
   in software on in a recommendation
You asked me to narrow which of the three topics I was addressing.
"a procedure for launching new standards development activities as
Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (RAND) Licensing Mode activities
(sections 4 and 5);"

One by one:
 o submarine patents.  You probably have been beat to death on this
issue so I won't cover it.  You get the point.
 o the path of future recommendations...
  If Xerox has/will have a patent used in something like the SVG
recommendation, then all issues of royalties may be addressed
in recommendation v1.0.  However, let us say that while the W3C is
developing draft v2.0, they change the use, or lack thereof, the
Xerox patent.  What position will Xerox be in to alter the decision
of the panel/committee?  I see the use of patents and various
schemes as a way for company boards to excert more power and contol
over the market they are trying to enter.  You have stated that
"even large and influential companies have only one vote at
the Advisory Committee level."  I am sure this bothers them and
adding patents to the mix is their attempt to undermine the balance
of power imposed by the W3C.
 o royalty payment-required ...
  I am a supporter of free software.  While there are many of the
major projects I have not convinced my employer and customer on,
many of the "lesser known" projects have won their hearts.  ESPECIALLY
when the tools and we will be using are feature incomplete or
incorrect.  If we must pay a royalty to use tools, my customer
becomes upset because they get tired of all the little nit-noid
things they have to pay for.  Now, if my customer has a customer
who provides them data in a patent-protected, royalty-payment-required
format, I have to write code to move that format into my customer's
internal systems.  My hands are tied.  I have had my job, which is
to write custom solutions to custom problems, turned into a
system's engineer with ignorance on the inner workings of things.
If that is the case, my customer will no longer be able to solve
things in unique ways, customized to them.
  While I believe that the royalty scheme should be abandoned,
I do believe that the patent might work in your favor IF:
 1. credit for the patent must ALWAYS be given.
 2. since all players who have a role in W3C-related issues are
    already involved, get them to all sign a notice that they will
    not pursue any predatory patent techniques with regard to
    W3C recommendations and will face discipline if they do.
 3. also have them agree that anyone who violates the agreement
    and any outsider who uses a predatory patent technique will become
    the subject of wilfull patent obscuring litigation by the
    other, member, companies.
    (kind of a NATO alliance - an attack on one is an attack on all).
 4. publish the agreement as an effort to show that everyone is
    committed to moving the underlying technology forward.
 5. have patent holders turn over patent-violation prosecution rights
    to the W3C.  Then, anyone who attempts to "embrace and extend"
    without going through the W3C methods can be taken to court
    and corrected with formal procedures.  This also prevents the
    patent holder from attempting to "steer" future developments
    in the recommendations.

I greatly appreciate your willingness to extend the deadline for
comment submittal.  For what it's worth, I became aware of the
issue through www.lwn.net.

Thanks for your time.  I reply is not necessary unless you feel
compelled or if you have additional questions.

Charles Todd
Ohio, USA
Received on Friday, 5 October 2001 15:33:43 UTC

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