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

Patents are damage

From: Steven W McDougall <swmcd@world.std.com>
Date: Mon, 8 Oct 2001 17:00:54 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id: <200110082100.RAA22049@world.std.com>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
It seems like there is a conceptual problem in writing standards for
patented technology.

If a technology is truly deserving of a patent, then we shouldn't need
standards for its use: the patent will instruct us in the use of the
technology, and there won't be any other way to solve the problem.

If there are implementation details that need be specified, then the
patent holder--as both the owner and the beneficiary of the
patent--should specify them, as Phillips did for the audio cassette
format, and Sony did for the CD format.

If a technology isn't truly innovative; if it shouldn't have been
patented in the first place, but it was (for example, because the U.S.
patent system is broken) then there will be other ways to solve the
problem. In this case, we need a standard to specify which of the
available alternatives we will use. Obviously, we should choose an
alternative which is *not* patented.

I realize that this analysis is somewhat simplistic, but I'll stand by
my conclusion: a standards body should regard patents as damage, and
route around them.

Received on Monday, 8 October 2001 17:00:55 UTC

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