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Concerns about future fees for already implemented standards.

From: Tom Bryan <tbryan@python.net>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 15:26:41 +0500
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-ID: <0f9511018191e91FE8@mail8.nc.rr.com>
I have read most of the draft of the W3C Patent Policy Framework at 
http://www.w3.org/TR/patent-policy/.  I am particularly concerned by this 
statement from the FAQ at http://www.w3.org/2001/08/16-PP-FAQ:

"If the ACR fails to respond to requests for patent disclosures, by default, 
they will commit their Member company to license all Essential Claims needed 
to implement W3C recommendations on at least RAND terms. This is true whether 
any personnel from the Member company participates in a WG or not."

While I understand that the intent is to ensure that patent holders do not 
refuse to license technology that is necessary to implement the standard, it 
leaves open the possibility that those implementing a standard would be 
subject to royalty fees after they have developed their software.  As my 
company moves toward an increasing reliance on W3C standards (particularly 
those developed by the XML Working Group), I am concerned that in adopting 
future standards, we could be forced to pay royalty fees retroactively.  
Patent holders have little incentive to disclose their patent information 
during the development of a draft if they can charge fees after the draft 
becomes a Recommendation and is implemented.  While my company relies on W3C 
standards for increased interoperability, the possibility of hidden royalty 
fees may lead us to develop our own technologies with our direct partners 
instead of relying on a W3C standard.  If many organizations choose this 
strategy, then interoperability, one of the main points of the W3C 
(http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Points/), would suffer.

I ask you to extend the comment period for this draft and publicize its 
development more widely or at least to change the default licensing of 
undisclosed patents to a royalty free license.  In six weeks, I see fewer 
than 400 comments on a very important policy change by the W3C.  I know that 
some of my friends who work in non-profit technology organizations were 
concerned by this policy.  They tend to follow such news, but they had not 
heard of this draft.  

Tom Bryan
Senior Software Engineer, Itron
Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 15:18:12 GMT

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