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

W3C Patent Policy

From: Claire Hitchfield <clairehi@world-net.co.nz>
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 23:31:22 +1300
To: <www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org>
Message-ID: <NABBJFBEKCEKNPPMEBAPKEOGCAAA.clairehi@world-net.co.nz>
Dear W3C Members,

The Internet and the World Wide Web are an integral part of millions of
ordinary citizens of the world's lives today. Providing previously
unimagined opportunities for them to network, to collaborate, to
communicate. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to research,
to develop, to innovate.

However innocuous and beneficial the Reasonable and Non-discriminatory
License appears, I believe that it is not appropriate to the spirit of the

Regardless of anyone's opinion of the propriety of issuing patents for
software, it is clear that patents will continue to be applied for, and
continue to be issued. The W3C should take a strong stand against the use or
adoption of any patented technology as a Web standard, unless such patents
are guaranteed to be and remain royalty-free, for use by all.

Such a stand will maintain the open nature of the Web, while allowing the
participants to continue to innovate and the lawyers to continue to protect
their employers' assets. At the same time, it will enable independent
developers to continue expanding the variety of interoperable
implementations without the threat of legal action. Remember the text of
your own Member Agreement:

"[W3C] ...agree to grant and hereby grant to Member a non-exclusive
royalty-free, irrevocable, right and license to use, reproduce, modify,
translate, distribute, publicly display and publicly perform all computer
software and documentation described in Section 7 (b) throughout the

We applaud the addition of patent disclosure requirements to the processes
by which open standards are crafted. We are, however, extremely curious as
to what remedies the W3C policy offers in the case of a breach of good faith
by one of its Members.

As the policy stands, there are none, and we are to take it on faith that
not only will Members disclose patents and applications they may not have
had a hand in submitting, but if they do not, the Working Group will be
disbanded and the technology abandoned in its current form.

This unacceptably weak link in the policy essentially allows any Member to
sabotage any W3C technology simply by filing for a patent application.

We suggest that any Member found in violation of the disclosure clauses of
the policy be barred from participation in or communication with the other
Members of the various W3C Working Groups for a period of no less than two
years. This should extend not only to the individual representative, but to
all representatives of any Member determined to be in bad faith, whether
currently involved in Working Groups or not.

Such violators should also be required to abandon all claims to RAND
licensing for the technology in question, and instead make the technology
royalty-free as a demonstration of their commitment to open standards and
fair and open cooperation.

We thank you for opening this process up to public comment, and for
extending the comment period (however briefly) so that we could actually
read the proposed policy and reply. Let's make sure that the same spirit of
openness and receptivity to the audience you claim to serve is not
threatened again.

We understand that the "inherently difficult twists and turns of some of the
patent licensing language" may have led us into error with respect to our
interpretation of the policy. If so, please either do your best to explain
the twists or to remove them altogether. We are counting on W3C to continue
"leading the Web to its full potential."

Finally, it is with trepidation we have sadly noted that the majority of the
Patent Policy Draft authors are working with large corporates which stand to
gain considerably from the breakdown of the open nature of the Web.

Please reconsider.

Yours sincerely,

Claire Hitchfield
Fremy Consulting Group
Received on Thursday, 11 October 2001 06:23:16 UTC

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