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Comments on the W3C Patent Policy Framework

From: Bill Zaumen <zaumen@pacbell.net>
Date: Mon, 08 Oct 2001 21:36:25 -0700
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-id: <3BC27DCD.323EED7@pacbell.net>

1. RAND licensing could be used to maintain a monopoly position by a
company that distributes a browser with other software such as an
operating system, because it is possible for a company to subsidize the
cost of its browser with the royalties it pays itself.  Meanwhile,
competitors are saddled with the full cost.  The proposed policy does
not address this issue in any way.  It also runs the risk of preventing
public domain implementations, thereby limiting experimentation with new technologies.

2. Proprietary file formats can be used to lock out users who do not use
particular products.  As an example, over the past couple of years, I've
received a number of email documents containing Microsoft TNF
attachments, which themselves contain MS-word documents.  My system can
display word documents but cannot handle TNF attachments. This has
wasted a significant amount of my time in trying to explain to
technically unsophisticated people why there is a problem.  Some have
refused to believe that there even is such a thing as a TNF attachment
because their mail clients don't explicitly display it.  If Microsoft
had designed the format so that each message would use MIME to
encapsulate attachments, with a TNF attachment providing proprietary
enhancements, there would not have been an issue: the documents would
have been readable.  The patent policy needs to explicitly require that
any W3C specification using patented technology will be designed so that
a RAND license will not be required for basic navigation or other
functions where patented technology is not really necessary.

3. File formats used in W3C specifications should not require a RAND
license for merely displaying a document in a browser, and users should
be able to use any implementation of the file format they desire.  For
example, some users find animation very distracting.  While there is a
broad range of sensitivity, in my case it is so bad that I literally
cannot read text if there are blinking or flashing animations visible on
the screen. For accessibility reasons, I have to be able to shut
animations off.  This will in some cases require that I obtain a plug-in
or similar browser extension from a third party.  W3C specifications
should require licenses that allow users to do this.  Even if there is a
cogent reason for using a RAND license for some formats, if a user has a
licensed implementation, the user should be allowed to substitute
another implementation without paying an additional license fee, whether
directly or indirectly.

4. Section 6.2, describing the criteria for PAG membership, needs to be
more explicit about the participation of  members who are not part of a
particular working group. Other W3C members may have an interest in the
type of licensing for a specification, even if those members do not wish
to participate in the development of the specification from a technical standpoint.
Received on Tuesday, 9 October 2001 00:47:20 GMT

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