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Even current standards are not safe!

From: Gervase Markham <gerv@mozilla.org>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 15:19:11 -0700
Message-ID: <3BB79A5F.1060607@mozilla.org>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
If this becomes the official Patent Policy of the W3C, even current 
standards (CSS 1 and 2, HTML 4) are not safe from retroactive patent 
encumbrance.

Section 5.3 of the policy provides for the possibility of re-chartering 
an existing Working Group under a new Licensing Mode (i.e., given that 
no-one would have an incentive to change it the other way, re-chartering 
an RF Working Group as a RAND Working Group.)

The Patent Advisory Group (the drafters of the new policy) can initiate 
this process and (albeit after approval from the Director), all the 
members get thrown out and have to be re-nominated, and *licensing 
commitments made by Working Group members under the older charter are void.*

In other words, if the e.g. CSS Working Group were dissolved and 
reconsituted in this way, companies could start charging licensing fees 
for the patents they hold on current CSS standards - either under RAND, 
or (worse) by withdrawing from the process completely and licensing 
under discriminatory terms.

Who has CSS patents, and who would they like to discriminate against?

Gerv
Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 18:19:55 GMT

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