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Re: MSN blocks non-IE browsers: the real idea with RAND "standards"

From: Daniel Phillips <phillips@bonn-fries.net>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 17:36:20 +0200
To: Martijn Dekker <martijn@inlv.demon.nl>, www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <20011026153525Z16347-698+648@humbolt.nl.linux.org>
On October 25, 2001 10:22 pm, Martijn Dekker wrote:
> Microsoft, one of the prime RAND patent policy proposers, is now 
> actively blocking browsers such as Opera, iCab, and Mozilla from 
> accessing msn.com. Apart from IE, only Netscape is let in. Others are 
> given no option but to change their HTTP ID string (if they know how 
> to do that) or download MSIE.
> 
> Just an other indication of what they are really after. It is 
> certainly one of those things that sheds real light of what the RAND 
> patent policy proposal is all about: creating monopolies, not 
> standards.
> 
> With this kind of behavior, they have no business being part of a 
> purportedly open standards organization.

We have probably not focussed enough on Microsoft's roll in this whole, sorry 
affair.  A little digging turns up this news item from 1989:

    http://www.zdnet.com/sp/stories/news/0,4538,2205109,00.html   

Which covers some of the spin control Microsoft did after it became known 
that they had been granted a patent covering two principle components of a 
W3C recommendation, CSS and XSL.  Microsoft filed for the patent while 
participating in drafting the recommendation.

    http://www.delphion.com/details?pn=US05860073__
    (US5860073: Style sheets for publishing system)

Microsoft had this to say:

    "Lots of companies file patents every day," says Kate Sako, Microsoft
    senior corporate counsel, attempting to downplay any rancor caused by 
    Microsoft's actions. "Some standards bodies have patent rules. Some say 
    you can submit technologies that are patented but companies must be able 
    to license them on a nondiscriminatory basis."

Note the use of the ND word.

I found this comment from the article particularly interesting:

    Sako claims that, until fairly recently, the W3C had no patent policy. 
    But early on, Microsoft told the organization that it would make any of 
    its patented technology available on a royalty-free, reciprocal basis, 
    she says.

What, a W3C patent policy?  Wait a minute, this article is from 1999.  So 
Microsoft apparently knew at that time that W3C had a patent policy that we 
didn't know about.  Coupled with Microsoft's Style Sheet patent strategem, 
reminiscent of the Rambus affair, a pattern starts to emerge.

Microsoft has kept a curiously low profile through this whole affair.  
Perhaps they are letting others do their dirty work for them?  If anybody 
knows more about Microsoft's possible involvement in the promotion of 
patented web standards, this is the place to send that information:

   http://www.usdoj.gov/atr/contact/newcase.htm

--
Daniel
Received on Friday, 26 October 2001 11:35:41 GMT

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