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

NO patents in standards

From: Tony Sellers <tony_sellers@yahoo.com>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001 19:25:32 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <20011001022532.16951.qmail@web13302.mail.yahoo.com>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
First, I request that the deadline for comment on the
currently proposed patent policy change be extended. 
It is in my opinion advantageous to individuals that
action on this matter be delayed to allow serious
consideration of these very weighty issues by a
broader group than currently writes.  It may also be
advantageous to W3C not to be seen as rushing to
action under the obscuring cloud of recent world
events.  I second the thoughts of Theo de Raadt on
deadline extension.  Since we who might comment are
not yet assured of this extension, please forgive any
incoherence in my hurried arguments and understand
their spirit.

Second, I urge the the defeat of the proposed changes
to W3C patent policy.  The bases for my opposition to
the new policy are: a threat to real comptetition and
the historical precedents of similar moves to stifle
progress in their relative endeavors, and threat to
private ownership of data.

By definition, a patented standard or portion thereof
would require a license from its patent holder to
enable a competing product.  There is, I feel, and
irreconcilable tension between a patent holder's wish
to maximize license revenues and to prohibit
competition.  I realize that the intent of
non-discriminatory license policy is to level this
obstacle, but see among others the objection of Alan
Cox to the actual discrimination still allowed towards
smaller businesses and free [speech|beer] technology
developers.  

Free technology is owed a great debt by the current
commercial and public benefactors of networking and
internet techniology.  Without technology that was
developed freely, the reach of our working environment
would have been severly circumscribed.  Can you
imagine an internet without sendmail, Netscape,
Apache? While I can , I don't like the way it looks. 
Thin and anemic are adjectives that come to mind.  

The regressive nature of the RAND proposal would place
a disproportionate, and therefore discriminatory
burden on smaller non- and for-profit companies and on
developers 'scratching an itch' by developing free
technology.  Without the freedom of a patent-free
framework for their development, we might have been
denied nmany boons in the past and untild ones in the
future.  This price is too high.  Maintain the status
quo.  

If you'll forgive a moment of US-centrism, the purpose
of patents, as expressed in the United States
constitution is to encourage the useful arts.  In
recent years, patents have occasionally worked to
stifle rather than promote the useful arts.  

One specific example of patent counterproductivity
that comes to mind regards MPEG technology.  The
Motion Pictures Expert Group explained its
incorporation of patented technologies in their
standards in a well documented manner that resembles
the current proposal of the W3C.  To date, MPEG
technology has remained in the stranglehold of a few
select companies who have held the patents or the
capital to license them.  The end result has been both
a slow adoption of the standards and an even slower
progress in their further development.  Interestingly,
the single largest application of MPEG technology has
not contributed significantly to MPEG patent holder
revenues.

The right of innovators to control their work and
attempt to profit from it is sacrosanct in most
cultures.  The internet community is no exception. 
This does not mean that such innovators are entitled
to have governmental or other standards making
organizatons enshrine their innovations as standards
at the expense of competitors and private individuals.
 

Congruent to that right of ownership for standards
innovators is the right of individual creators to own
their data.  Patented standards for the storage or
communication of that data compromise a creator's
right to their own data.  I can concieve of no moral
framework which can support this result.  

Put simply, there is no room for intellectual property
in the realm of internet standards.  

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Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 22:25:33 GMT

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