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PATO: Collective Security In the Age of Software Patents

From: Mark Bucciarelli <mark@easymailings.com>
Date: Fri, 26 Oct 2001 18:18:40 -0400
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <01102618184000.03240@localhost.localdomain>
I found an article written in 1993 by John Walker, founder of AutoDesk.  
He draws a link between our current patent mess and the radio patent 
industry in the 1920's.  Here's a link to the original article:

http://www.fourmilab.ch/autofile/www/chapter2_105.html

Basically, his idea is to create a NATO-like structure for patents, called 
"PATO."  Any member of PATO is granted an automatic, royalty-free license 
to use any patents in the pool.  And I quote:

    Since PATO is chartered to promote the free exchange and 
    licensing of software patents, members do not seek revenue 
    from their software patents--only mutual security. Thus, 
    anybody can join PATO, even individual programmers who do 
    not have a patent to contribute to the pool--they need only 
    pay the nominal yearly dues and adhere to the treaty--that any 
    software patents they are granted will go in the pool and that 
    they will not sue any other PATO member for infringement of a 
    software patent. 

Companies can take their patents "out" of the pool, but then they can no 
longer use the other patents royalty-free.

I would suggest that the W3 only adopt standards that are covered by 
patents in the pool.  The annual fees could be used to pay for PATO 
administration.

In addition, set the annual fee at a level that a single, open-source 
developer could afford, say $50 a year.

This is only a stop-gap measure that can let us get on with our work.  The 
long-term solution is to change the current patent policy in the United 
States.


Mark Bucciarelli
Received on Friday, 26 October 2001 18:12:14 GMT

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