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

Web standards should be patent free

From: Alan Johnson <alan.johnson@pyrrhic.co.uk>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 11:40:29 +0100
Message-ID: <3BB6F69D.FAFCADF6@pyrrhic.co.uk>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
I am extremely suprised and disappointe dto see the proposed change in
W3C patent policy.

This change will udermine or destroy the reasons for the webs rapid sucess and
growth which
are an open nature of the standards used. The potential for severe legal
complications and
difficulties in different countries is enormous. The US patent system in
paticualr is quite
different from most other patent systems and many of the patents that may be
incorporated
in W3C standards will not be valid outside the US. This will cause a lot of
problems and
may well prevent the widespread acceptance of those standards.

In the initial justification of the change the following statements were made:

                1.Convergence: The Web had its origins in the personal computer
software industry, where patents had seldom been a factor in development
dynamics.
                   However, as the Web comes into contact with the
telecommunications, broadcast media and consumer electronics industries, the
tradition of patenting
                   technology from those industries will likely be carried over
to the Web.

                    The opposite point that the tradition of not patenting will
be carried obver into telecommunications could equally be made.
                    The lesson of the last twenty years or so in the computer
industry suggests the success of a system is less related to
                    it's technical merit than easy and open access to ti.

                2.Rise in patent issuance: Patent offices, led by the U.S. PTO,
are issuing patents, especially in the software sector, at record rates.

                    The US patent system for software is out of control. Patents
are supposed to be novel and non-obvious but patents are commonly
                    granted on 'inventions' which have been in widespread if not
ubiquitous use for a decade or more. There has been absolutely no
                    attempt to consider what or what is not obvious. A slightly
different implementation of an exisiting function is always possible
                    but if this is then patented and then incorportaed in a
standard or just widespreaf sofwtar eproduct it gives a quite undeserved
                    control to the patent holder who has in fact not invented
anything.  The fact that the US is granting so many stupid patents should
                    be a reason to avoid patents entirely.

                3.Experience of Internet-related standards bodies: A number of
standards bodies including W3C, IETF, the WAP Forum, and others, have
encountered
                  potential barriers to acceptance of standards because of
licensing requirements perceived as onerous.

                   The easiest way to avoid this is to avoid patented
technologies.

                4.Popularity of business method patents: Beginning with the
State Street decision in the United States and continuing through high-profile
litigation between
                   Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com, business method patents
have become increasingly significant factor in the ecommerce marketplace.

                    As far as I am aware only the US allows business method
patents. I personally find it very difficult to believe that they will
                    gain widespread acceptance. The W3C is supposed to be a
world wide body why should a paticularily stupid  Ameican legal
                    judgement which has no world wide acceptance at all guide
its policy.



            AJ
Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 07:39:34 GMT

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