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

RAND & W3C Standards

From: Paul Dundas <paul.dundas@btinternet.com>
Date: Mon, 08 Oct 2001 01:12:52 +0100
Message-ID: <3BC0EF84.4030804@btinternet.com>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
CC: pdundas@btinternet.com

I believe that the recent proposals to permit standards which require 
royalty payments from implementors or users of compliant software 
seriously threatens the open development model which has produced the 
internet of today, and on which it depends.

We should make every effort to ensure, as far as possible, that any 
future standards can also be implemented by the same open process that 
has served the internet and its users so well thus far. Continued 
competition between open source and proprietary developers can only be a 
good thing for software and its users -- but it is difficult to see how 
open-source developments can take place when licence payments (however 
non-discriminatory they may be for commercial developers) are required.

I would make two suggestions.

1) Participants in the W3C standards process may be "invited" (or 
required, as a condition of their participation) to grant a license to 
use, free of any royalties, any patent which they may hold (or 
subsequently acquire) for the purpose of implementing the agreed 
standard, to the extent necessary to produce a workable and complete 
implementation of the agreed standard.

["complete", to avoid having "chargable extras" in the standard, and 
"workable" to prevent typos, bugs or mistakes in the standard which 
would render it technically unworkable, if interpreted to the letter].

This would protect against (deliberately or accidentally) incomplete 
internal patent searches by the participants.

The IP owning company's interests would still be protected by allowing 
disclosure of any such patent (or patent application) to the 
standardising group, together with a revocation of the royalty-free 
license, at any time BEFORE that standard is agreed. This would allow 
the standardising group to make the appropriate decision to approve an 
alternative unencumbered proposal.

2) If it is not acceptable to grant a royalty-free license to all and 
sundry then, as a minimum, royalty-free licenses must be available for 
non-commercial, open-source implementations of the standard. For 
commercial or closed-source developments, Reasonable and 
Non-Discriminatory (in the sense of not discriminating against other 
commercial developments) terms should be a minimum requirement for any 
W3C standard. While this seems a less satisfactory approach, it may 
reassure companies who are unwilling to see their competitors profiting 
from their IP.

This approach would clearly require agreement on what constitutes 
open-source in this context, but a number of candidate definitions of 
open-sourceness already exist, and I have every confidence in the W3C's 
ability to clarify this issue. Defining standards is, after all, what 
you do.

I hope these suggestions are of interest, and may be of some help in 
considering this important issue.


Paul Dundas
Received on Sunday, 7 October 2001 20:10:18 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 6 January 2015 21:06:44 UTC