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

Suggestions for alternative procedure

From: David Balch <david@balch.co.uk>
Date: Wed, 10 Oct 2001 17:19:24 +0100
Message-ID: <3BC4750C.5060507@balch.co.uk>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Thank you, W3C,  for extending the comment period on this draft, I would 
not have been able to contribute if you had not.

My view is that standards should continue to be unencumbered by patents, 
for the reasons voiced by many and nicely summarised at 
http://www.lisa.org/2001/rand/rand.html . Others can debate those 
arguments better than I.

I have my doubts on the merit of the W3C giving apparent endorsments to 
patents by their inclusion in standards (I believe that will be the 
general perception), but am unfamiliar with the depths of the 
patents/standards issues (e.g. how often do patents arise in web 
standards?) - so I suggest a system that permits patent encumbered 
standards as a last resort.

Both the majority of contributions to this list and W3C itself have 
stated preference for RF standards, so RF should be the initial mode of 
all WGs. Standards should have freedom from patents as a highly 
desirable trait, so every opportunity to use unencumbered technologies 
should be presented and used.

When a contribution that involves patents is offered it must be 
disclosed as suggested, but also announced in a manner to provide 
opportunity for W3C members and the _community_ to find an alternative. 
The possibility of a Web Schism suggests that there must be enough 
talented and concerned parties to formulate an alternative to any 
patented technologies contributed to a standard.

Each WG with a contribution that involves patents can alert the 
community of the patent through a general mailing list (say 
"patent-announce@w3.org") describing which issues and parties are 
involved. More detail and schedules would be described in webpages. 
Another mailing list would be created for discussion and resolution of 
the patent issues in that WG.

Interested parties would subscribe to the patent-announce@w3.org list, 
and keep the community aware of potential patents in standards. If the 
community is interested and can find alternatives to the patented 
technologies, then they should be used. If there is no alternative, or 
the community is not interested in the standard then the patented 
technology would have to be used. (I imagine RF should be required as I 
don't see how RAND could not discriminate against someone when applied 
to GNU.)

This scheme would involve the community more in the development of 
standards, which can only be a good thing, especially considering the 
schism alternatives. However, I do not know how well it would fit in 
with the current membership system.

Hoping for a effective resolution,

David Balch.
Received on Wednesday, 10 October 2001 12:21:26 UTC

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