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

RAND considered harmful

From: <rand.w3c@bernard-hugueney.org>
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 21:54:00 +0200 (CEST)
Message-Id: <200110111954.PAA05101@tux.w3.org>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
W3C Patent Policy Working Group:

I would like to add my voice to the public outcry
 urging you not to legitimate patented Web standard with the new RAND policy.
Some might find it unfair to have none free mandatory requirment
 (ie. standards), I would like to point out the inefficiency of the proposal.
If I understood correctly, the main goal is to avoid the discovery of so-called
"submarine patents" that would undermine an RF.

I, like many others, do think that the remedy is worse than the problem, for
most of the involved parties, namely small companies and users. The wording
 might seem appealing, but it should be obvious that civic-minded patents
 holders strive to be "Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory" as they are currently
 striving "to promote the progress of science and the useful arts" !
Namely that they will try, as they should, to maximize profit, meaning that
"payment of reasonable, non-discriminatory royalties or fees" will be as
less reasonable and non-discriminatory as possible as such is the way to
more profit. Asking big internet corporate players to "play nice" seems utterly
naive. Big players have a tendency to distort competition as much as they think
they can get away with. Simply because such distortion helps making profit, and
profit is the name of the game.

As others have noted, Free Software is especially vulnerable to patents,
 because ANY fee is not acceptable. Hopefully, the many talented members of the
Free Software community will come up with "standards" of their own, creating
a rift in the Web. I do expect that such free standards will be wildly accepted
and successfully compete with RAND standards. When one sees the inner fight
between the working groups to promote in-house technologies for standardization
when being first-to-market was at stake, one can only guess what will happen
when fighting for a Web-toll !

It would be much more healthy to deter people from keep "submarine patents",
not by asking then to be nice (RAND) to threaten them fom exclusion.
"If a W3C member does not disclose a patent held or submitted impeding a
W3C standard in progress, such member is forbidden to [implement | publicize
conformance to] such standard" would be simple and effective.

I have always recommended W3C conformance, pointing webmasters to W3C 
validators. It will be a sad day when I recommend people to stay away from
"RAND" W3C standards. Whether this day ever comes is up to you.

Bernard Hugueney

Received on Thursday, 11 October 2001 15:54:21 UTC

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