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

Patent encumbered standards squelch innovation

From: Ed Warnicke <hagbard@physics.rutgers.edu>
Date: 30 Sep 2001 13:39:34 -0400
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <1001871575.18634.19.camel@hagbard>
I am writing to object to the W3C proposal to allow RAND ( Reasonable
and Non-discriminatory ) licensing of patents related to W3C standards.

So called RAND licenses are not in fact non-discriminatory They require
the payment of royalties in exchange for the right to implement
the standard.  This constitutes a barrier to entry for those who wish to
partiticpate in implementing a standard.  This intrinsically
discriminates against academic researchers, students, and open source
developers, none of whom can afford any meaningful royalty payment.
Just because a patent licensing scheme is uniform does not make it 
non-discriminatory.

The effect of the proposed RAND policy upon W3C standards will be to
insure that they are 
A)	Implemented less frequently due to fear of reprisal from patent
	holders.
	
	Fewer implementations invariably mean less standards compliance 
	on the part of implementers as it becomes easier to simply
	interoperate with a few participants than to adhere to the 
	actual standard, thus undermining the very point of 
	having a standard.

B)	Lead to less innovation as the academic researcher and open 	source
developers are frozen out.  Please note that the 
	majority of durable innovations on the Internet (TCP/IP, 
	HTTP, SMTP, Mosaic, etc ) where brought about by these groups.
	
To attach discriminatory terms of any kind ( including royalty bearing
patent encumberance ) to a standard greatly reduces its value and the 
standing of the body which puts forward that standard.  

The W3C is approaching a crossroads where it can either choose to go the
route of the ITU or the way of the IETF.  The ITU is a closed standards
body, used primarily as a means for corporations to jocky for position.
It tends to produce highly fragmented results.  The IETF by contrast is 
an open standards body and tends to produce relatively ( in the end ) 
unified standards.  

I urge the W3C to remain and open standards body and reject the RAND
proposal.  

Ed Warnicke
Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 13:39:25 GMT

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