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SchemaSoft comments on 16 Aug 2001 W3C Patent Policy Framework

From: Philip Mansfield <PhilipM@schemasoft.com>
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2001 19:10:36 -0700
Message-ID: <2D8FAB29FBEED31190F40060081C295D2BFE56@SCHEMAIL>
To: "'www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org'" <www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org>
Here are SchemaSoft's comments on the Patent Policy working draft at
http://www.w3.org/TR/2001/WD-patent-policy-20010816/

We have carefully reviewed the above document, and compared it with our
experience of the "status quo" while involved with the creation of SVG 1.0.
We believe that although the proposed patent policy is well-intentioned, its
implementation within the W3C would fundamentally violate the principles on
which the W3C was founded, and would be inferior to the status quo.  In
particular,

OUR OBJECTION:
No mention of RAND or any other policy promoting the ability to charge
royalties should appear in a W3C document.  The W3C's mission is to promote
open standards, not to promote the conditions under which any company can
enforce its patents by charging royalties.  Nor does the W3C have any
ability to control whether a company claims others must pay royalties.  The
W3C can only control the terms under which a company contributes to the
formation of standards (terms such as we have suggested below).  Although
RAND attempts to be a minor improvement on the status quo by ensuring
royalties and other conditions are "reasonable", it is not actually an
improvement because it provides a mechanism for companies to have their
royalty claims officially recognized by the W3C, creating the impression
that the W3C endorses such claims (whether they actually do or not).
On the other hand, it is fine for the W3C to mention and promote RF within
its policy documents, since RF is consistent with W3C's mission to promote
open standards.

OUR SUGGESTED ALTERNATIVE:
A condition of participation in any W3C Working Group should be that every
Contribution made by a member is made as a royalty-free Contribution.  In
particular, the participating company must agree in advance to not charge
for implementation of any of their representative's Contributions to the
standard.  Whether they make a claim against someone else's Contribution is
another matter, and not something the W3C can control or have policy about,
since it is impossible to know in advance what everyone else's contribution
will be.  Of course, the notion of "Contribution" in the above-suggested
policy has to be formalized, for example, along the lines of 4(c) in the
existing Patent Policy Framework working draft.  With our suggested policy,
any company that has a patent on a truly innovative idea (not obvious to
others skilled in the art) can simply not contribute that idea.  Without
this suggested policy, companies will actually be motivated to steer the
"open" standards in directions that maximize their potential royalties,
defeating the purpose of an open standard.

........................
Philip Mansfield, AC Representative
Schema Software Inc.
Received on Thursday, 11 October 2001 22:10:49 GMT

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