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

Re: Conern of the term "reasonable and non-discriminatory royalty fees"

From: chuck weinberger <chuckhw@pacbell.net>
Date: Sat, 06 Oct 2001 00:57:33 -0700
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-id: <000001c14e3c$8f938aa0$9321c93f@officecomputer>
It's funny that you should mention commercial browsers as possibly being
affected by an W3C RAND policy.  It turns out that modern browsers already
include standards that are subject to the ITU's RAND licensing policies.
For instance, V.42bis is an ITU standard for data compression and is
included with just about every commercial browser that I can think of.  Its
core algorithm (LZW and related variants) are patented by Hughes, Unisys,
IBM and others.  Many of these patents holders have attempted to assert
their patents for profit at various times.  In fact, at one point early in
the online revolution Unisys went after Compuserve for using LZW for its
data compression standard.  The users of Compuserve put up such a stink that
Unisys backed down to some extent.  Unisys publicly said that it would not
seek a royalty from Compuserve's users that simply decompress images, but
they would seek a royalty (I think it was somewhere in the neighborhood of
$.10/software copy) from those that used image compressor to post images.

As far as I know, none of the V.42bis patent holders ever attempted to
collect royalties for commercial browsers.  I understand that this is at
least partially the result of existing commercial relationships between the
major players.  I know of at least one smaller internet appliance company
that had a very difficult time trying to license patents essential to the
implementation of V.42bis from Unisys. This is yet another example of how it
pays to be big when having to deal with a RAND licensing scenario.

-Chuck Weinberger
Received on Saturday, 6 October 2001 08:11:27 GMT

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