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

RAND: A Bad Thing

From: Peter H. <phagstrom@mail1.stofanet.dk>
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2001 14:54:55 +0200
Message-Id: <200110101618.MAA23475@tux.w3.org>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
I believe that something has been overlooked in the idea of "royalty based 
standards". 

They way I see it, is that a standard is that which the parties involved can 
agree on. Once a standard is put together the parties can go their separate 
ways again and use the standard. In this case it would be developers using 
the standard in their programs. The programs they can then sell (or give 
away) as they see fit. 

But the standard comes first. It /should/ come /before/ any talk of royalty. 
It should come /before/ any talk of competition. The standard is used to make 
it easy for developers to make programs and to make it easy for users to 
choose programs. Therefore the standard will help all. They way I see it, 
once a standard becomes royalty based two thing will happen:

1: One (or several) parallel standard(s) will form (we have seen this before 
a few times). A standard which does just about the same as the original but 
which require no royalty

2: The royalty based standard will be pirated.

The first thing will mean that the standard is useless. The idea was that 
different developers could write software that was interchangeable but since 
there are now several standards for the same thing, this idea is now pretty 
much down the drain. 

The second thing thing will mean that only a few (my guess will be large 
companies) will actually paid the patent holder. This might lead the patent 
holder to set up the price next time around.

The end result is that everybody looses (well, save maybe the large companies 
that DO consider this idea to be a Good Thing). 

The free and independent developers won't be able to be just that (free and 
independent). That is, if they still want to use the original standard). The 
rest of them (those who will not use the original standard) will have to 
reinvent the standard.

The users will have several standards which are similar in design but which 
are incompatible. This will mean that it will be next to impossible to use 
the Web. This (of course) especially goes for the users that run on 
non-commercial Operating Systems and use non-commercial applications.

The patent holder might make a few bugs. But seeing as he is properly 
employed at one of the large companies, that company will just get the money 
back they had to pay up on one of the other standards.

In the proposal it says "Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory". What has to be 
kept in mind is that for some developers these words simply do /not/ go 
together with royalty. For these developers, the fact that is royalty based 
means that they have not the means to choose this option. No matter how RAND 
it is.

-- 
Peter H.
 
 Don't get even -- get odd!
Received on Wednesday, 10 October 2001 12:18:40 GMT

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