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

Web standards, W3C and others.

From: derek lane <derekglane@yahoo.com>
Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 14:21:39 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <20011012212139.7719.qmail@web12207.mail.yahoo.com>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
W3C aims to provide standards for the web.
As a standards-making body, it has to decide what to 
standardise and how to balance technical
quality of its standards with the likelihood that they will be
implemented widely, and their "fit" with the existing environment.

It is important to note that W3C is not the only
creator or maintainer of standards for the web.
There are successful defacto standards (PDF,Flash)
driven by companies, standards created outside W3C
but maintained by it (PNG, from a usenet collaboration)
and standards created outside the W3C and maintained
outside W3C (SAX created and maintained by a mailing list,
XMLRPC created by Winer,Box, Atkinson and Al-Ghosein and
maintained by Winer with feedback from xmlrpc users).

Given that W3C exists in an environment with many
successful standards, it is not essential that all
web-based standards be promulgated by W3C.

W3C has a unique brand since it has the creator of
the very important HTML, HTTP and URL standards as
its head and has a good track record with widely 
implemented new standards (eg CSS, XML). It should
use this brand wisely, and protect it.

At present, one component of the brand is that W3C
attempts to promulgate standards without patent
encumbrance or at least with royalty-free patents.
Allowing RAND W3C standards dilutes this brand in
the implementor community, and that is important.
(Part of sourceforge's popularity comes from the 
increased certainty that its projects are freely 
implementable.) If W3C allows RAND patents perhaps
it should brand the RF patents as "W3C-RF" and 
ensure that the RF patent licenses are Open Source
compatible.

Alternatively, W3C standards could all be agressively
RF. There are other standards bodies with more
experience with RAND licensing (IETF, ISO, ITU) 
and the web community might be better served 
implementing (or not) their standards. 

Or W3C could create RAND standards and discover
individuals (eg Dave Winer) or groups (FSF)
with strong commitments to patent-free software
promulgating their own set of standards covering
very similar areas.

Multiple standards covering very similar
areas is often a bad thing. W3C can 
decrease the chances of this happening by
minimising the sources of such forks. W3C
already has wide credibility and membership,
two strategies for providing dominating 
standards. W3C can avoid a proven method
of splitting standards by promulgating only
RF standards. 

W3C is less experienced or has less credibility
in patent-infested areas than alternative
standards-making bodies or individuals.

Perhaps it would be wise to specialise.

--Derek Lane
Just Some Guy
Marketdriven



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Received on Friday, 12 October 2001 17:21:41 GMT

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