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

Why RAND will kill the W3C

From: Mark Mumford <MMUMFORD@volera.com>
Date: Mon, 08 Oct 2001 09:56:15 -0600
Message-Id: <sbc1781a.075@prv-mail20.provo.novell.com>
To: <www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org>
I am writing (like many others) to express my dismay that the World Wide Web Consortium has decided to give in to corporations which wish to hijack the open public internet.  From what I have read on its website it appears that the W3C is of the opinion that technology corporations are only beginning to influence the future of the internet.

The reality is that most of these companies are running out of internet related technologies that they feel they can market effectively.  This is evidenced by the softness in the technology sector (even taking into account the effect of the burst of the .com bubble).  They've simply run out of stuff that they feel they can actually get people to buy.  For this reason they have been amassing frivolous and ridiculous patents of common ideas at an alarming rate in an attempt to block the W3C (among others) from continuing to implement free standards that benefit the public.  They want to keep the internet at its most simple (i.e. plain HTML, etc) so as to create the effect of an artificial scarcity of interesting new internet technologies.  They want people to believe that only they are able, with the help of markets and the money they produce, to come up with new ideas and create new standards/effects.  They don't want to go to the trouble of creating and marketing an actual framework like Macromedia has done for Flash (even if it isn't free or open).  Instead they wish to simply patent ideas and then have others come up with the implementations and do the marketing.

If the W3C can navigate its way around these awful software patents (why do we patent algrithms and mathematics in the U.S. (?) ) and create new, free, open standards for not very long, the corporations will lay off attempting to steal the free, open, public internet for their own selfish gain and perhaps get back to implementing W3C standards instead of trying to stake claims on possible ones.

I feel that endorsing patented technologies as internet standards will only harm the W3C.  The backlash will be truly incredible because only a small number of people will use the patented technologies in their sites/products and as a result of less than wide adoption, the "standard" will die.  The W3C will be seen as nothing but an arm of greedy companies and competing bodies will spring up in other places.

And finally, the commercialization of the internet will fail because 90% of people only use it for getting free information, using email and chatting, all of which can be done for free.  The majority of people will ignore these "new technologies" because they're simply not interested/don't care.  The companies that endorsed this stuff will fail like the .com's did because all their new stuff is good for is snazzy web pages--and as we know from the .com crash, those don't make any money.

The reality is that all this move will do is destroy the credibility of the W3C and make the internet a slightly less technically vibrant place for a few years.


Mark Mumford
Received on Monday, 8 October 2001 11:56:25 UTC

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