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

true standards do not allow patented material

From: Kenny Graunke <kenny@whitecape.org>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 01:25:38 -0700
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-ID: <20010930012538.A18487@whitecape.org>
All true internet standards must be royalty and patent free. It is simply
not fair to try and convince companies and businesses to use standards which
require payment of royalties - everyone who wishes to use these so called
standards must pay large amounts of money (collectively) to a few companies
who own these patents. This creates a very distorted field - the patent
holders get rich quickly, while the small businesses face an even greater
challenge, and small community based development projects simply cannot
support the standard at all. Free software and common patent-free protocols
have built the internet. Trying to control this to increase the flow of
money into the hands of a few works against both cooperation and
competition. In America, we believe in competition - one of the key
requirements is /lack of barriers to entry/. Patents are one such barrier.
On the internet, we believe in cooperation and community - working together
to meet the needs of the group. Patents work against this.

Eventually, people will get fed up with this unfairness. They will join
together to support development of a patent-free standard which is at least
as high quality if not better. In times past GIFs were the defacto image
format on the web, now we have a superior format supported in almost all
modern browsers - PNG. While MP3s are quite popular, the patent-free Ogg
Vorbis format is becoming more popular and is just as good as MP3s are
quality-wise.

I am especially sad to see an organization such as the W3C turn to patents
and closed "standards". The W3C has long since stood for common, open
standards to be shared by all - implementable by anyone with the time and
skill, even volunteer open source developers. For years, I could point to
the W3C and say "They're supporting the internet community, and making good
standards shared by all."; if you adopt RAND, I'm afraid I am going to have
to say "They're supporting the needs of a few over the rest of the
community, making so-called standards influenced by a few company's desires,
and completely unusable by many."

What good is a standard when it is defined by the desires of a few
companies, anyhow? If Microsoft or Apple own patents on the "standard", they
essentially control it. It is no longer a standard in the sense that it
represents something done by many, for many, but rather is something a few
companies are pushing on the rest of us. This seems like a step backwards
into the days of the browser wars - you could see the Microsoft patented
standards, Apple patented standards, Kodak patented standards... Pretty
disgusting, when you think about it. When you have one royalty-free
standard, you can share it with everyone who wants to use it. You can get
their input, too. But with patented standards, anyone who wants to
contribute to that standard, or does not wish to use this patent has to
essentially write a new standard, or perhaps fork an existing one to remove
patented areas. Forking is _disasterous_ to a coherent information system -
then our software would have to implement 5 different major branches of a so
called "standard", when the whole problem could have been avoided in the
first place by not allowing patented material in the standards!

If the W3C decides to allow patented material in their standards, I will be
happy to take my business elsewhere, and actively convince a lot of others
to do so as well.

Kenny Graunke
Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 04:26:51 GMT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0+W3C-0.50 : Tuesday, 27 April 2010 00:13:39 GMT