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Apple Computer's Statement on the Draft W3C Patent Policy

From: Wanda Cox <co.wanda@apple.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 13:42:32 -0700
Message-ID: <3BC60438.9F146008@apple.com>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org, w3c-patentpolicy-review@w3.org
Apple Computer's Statement on the Draft W3C Patent Policy

After careful consideration of the draft patent policy, Apple believes
that it is essential to continued interoperability and development of
the Web that fundamental W3C standards be available on a royalty-free
basis. In line with the W3C's mission to "lead the Web to its full
potential," Apple supports a W3C patent policy with an immutable
commitment to royalty-free licensing for fundamental Web standards.
Apple offers this statement in support of its position.

The promise of the Web is a common framework for exchange of
information, with open access for a diverse pool of developers and
users. Realization of this promise demands a licensing model that is
likewise open and unencumbered by private rights. We believe that W3C
membership should involve not only collaboration to develop standards,
but also collaboration to ensure that those standards are, in fact, open
and available to diverse users without charge.

At the same time, the corporate, governmental, institutional, and
individual entities that support Web standardization by contributing and
considering technology for adoption as a standard have legitimate
interests in protecting -- through intellectual property rights -- the
fruits of their own investments in technology. A patent policy that
requires intellectual property rights owners to commit their valuable
intellectual property in advance and without exception would undoubtedly
discourage participation in the W3C.   

To balance these conflicting interests, Apple believes that W3C should
promulgate only royalty-free standards, but should permit individual
members to identify and exclude specific patents that they are not
willing to license on a royalty-free basis. To accomplish this, a W3C
member would be required to disclose and license to any practitioner all
essential patents of a W3C standard. To exclude a patent from this
royalty-free license, a W3C member could, on a case-by-case basis,
notify a particular working group that it has patent rights that it
believes are essential to that working group's recommendation, and that
it is unwilling to license on a royalty-free basis. The working group
must then steer its recommendation clear of any known unavailable patent
rights. If this cannot be accomplished, that working group might need to
cease standardization activities in its particular area. This opt-out
mechanism would allow an entity to preserve its intellectual property
rights, but only by removing it from the realm of open Web standards. In
order to proliferate royalty-free Web standards, a member's obligation
to license essential patents could be conditioned on the grant of a
reciprocal royalty-free license by any practitioner.   
  
While the current draft patent policy does state a "preference" for
royalty-free standards, the ready availability of a RAND option presents
too easy an alternative for owners of intellectual property who may seek
to use the standardization process to control access to fundamental Web
standards. A mandatory royalty-free requirement for all adopted
standards will avoid this result.  

Apple intends to advocate this position in further meetings of the
Patent Policy Working Group.
Received on Thursday, 11 October 2001 16:43:04 GMT

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