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Comment on inclusion of patented technologies in standards: JUST SAY NO!

From: Shawn Stamps <sstamps@nexvs.net>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 14:33:35 -0400
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-ID: <tflertguj8vgtbndipvbh7oet3eb0ujc41@4ax.com>

As an ISP, Internet software developer, and a longtime Internet
user/guru, I fully oppose the inclusion of ANY patented technologies
into ANY standard ANYWHERE under ANY circumstances, unless the patent
holder has effectively relinquished any claims to royalties and/or
licenses (your current "RF" model) to said technology.

I am not a lawyer (thank the gods), so let me put into simple words
that any COMMON MAN can understand concerning what WILL happen if you
implement this senseless and unnecessary proposal:

1) The Internet was founded, has grown to its current state, and will
continue to grow and expand based on FREE and OPEN (read: non-IP
encumbered) development of its core protocols. Whether that future
growth comes to be through the use of open and "free" standards that
are established through the humanitarian work of standards bodies who
understand this fact -or- "de facto" standards created and supported
by individuals outside of the established standards bodies to spite
their ill-conceived support of IP-encumbered standards, it will
continue to grow.

2) This "Patent Inclusion" working group is obviously headed up by
large corporate members whose interest is plain to see. The public at
large and the small corporations' interest is obviously nowhere to be
found. Hopefully, my voice and that of others like me WILL be heard
and represented by someone before this travesty goes any further.

3) Patents, in their present state, are "broken". They need to be used
LESS, not MORE. Effective litmus tests for obviousness are never met
today (I doubt they even exist). In addition, patents (in the US) are
now valid on such things as business methods and software
implementations. This is wrong and MUST be stopped. As a small
developer, I do not have the resources necessary to examine whether I
am infringing on someone's IP/Patent when I sit down and implement an
idea of my own from scratch. As far as I am concerned, *I* am the
creator of the IP, but I can never be sure that I won't stumble across
someone's ill-gotten patent landmine when I go to publish/sell my hard
work. It is a travesty; a miscarriage of justice so gross, that I KNOW
it harms the continued expansion of knowledge in Science and the
Useful Arts; something which is CONTRARY to the purpose of having
patents in the first place.

4) When a patented technology becomes a standard, it becomes more than
a simple government-granted monopoly in return for publicizing the
details of the idea patented; it becomes a "government" MANDATED
monopoly, REQUIRING all implementors of the standard to pay the patent
holder, just to create a competitive product. An analogy would be if a
company patented a way to compute income tax and the government
decided to require by law that everyone who pays income tax use this
company's "process" and, thus, license their IP to compute and pay the
tax. The only difference is that a standard does not have the weight
of legal enforcement (ie, through the use of deadly force) to support

5) In effect, what you are proposing will lower the standards process
to the level of market competition. An established standard from an
international standards-setting body (not an industry version of same)
is treated by most implementors as almost a "law"; the only difference
being that it isn't enforced with weapons. As such, since an
implementor cannot be compelled to use a standard by deadly force,
that person or group can choose to create/utilize a "de facto"
standard which gets around the IP restrictions on the established

6) Standards exist to harmonize implementations of a particular idea
or process and should ALWAYS strive to be open and free in order to
allow widespread adoption and ease of implementation. Burdening them
with IP, patents in particular, will lower their usefulness and force
competing de facto standards (with open and free licensing or Public
Domain terms) to come into existence, thus requiring vendors to
support multiple standards. This will erode the effectiveness of the
original standard (and, hence, the point of establishing a standard
(or having a standard-setting body) in the first place).

7) As an Internet software developer and implementor, my reaction to
IP-encumbered standards WILL BE to create and propagate such competing
de facto standards, not only to allow myself to create the necessary
tools that I need unencumbered, but to fight this gross abomination of
the PURPOSE of the standards-setting process.

8) The Internet is a dynamic, redundant, self-healing phenomenon. It,
by design, reroutes around obstacles, both technical and ideological.
It WILL, with the help of myself and MILLIONS of people like me, route
around the effects of this proposed waste of braintrust if it is
implemented. BANK on it.

Shawn Stamps
Omega Microsystems, Inc.
Nexus Internetworking Services
Canton, GA, USA
Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 14:37:31 UTC

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