W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org > December 2002

No to patents in standards

From: Charles Forsythe <forsythe@alum.mit.edu>
Date: Sun, 08 Dec 2002 06:29:20 -0600
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-id: <3DF33B20.80801@alum.mit.edu>

To the W3 Consortium Patent Policy Working Group:

Patented technology MUST NOT be included in the implementation 
requirements for ANY W3C recommendation or standard, UNLESS the patent 
holder provides a GPL-like license the patent.  In this case, the patent 
holder would be using their intellectual property rights to enforce 
universal access to their technology unfettered by any conditions or 

There have already been dire repercussions due to patent-encumbered 
standards.  For example, as this email traverses the Internet from my 
computer to yours, it may be read or even modified by unknown third 
parties.  Ubiquitous use of the SSL/TLS transport and other PKIX 
technologies would obviate these problems, but until recently, these 
were encumbered by the RSA patent.

The W3C's "RF" license appears to be a solution to the RAND licensing 
that stifled the deployment of badly-needed SSL-enabled services. 
 However, the provision to allow any limitations on the use of a 
required, patented technology leaves a legal loophole that could prove 
equally disasterous.  

With all due respect, the very fact that there's a concerted effort to 
create a framework for the inclusion of patented technology in professed 
open standards strikes me as na´ve.  Patents are obtained by parties who 
wish to constrain the activities of other people; the mere act of 
obtaining a patent entails rejecting the principals of freedom and 
openess that W3C standards should embody.

Standards should empower developers to focus on more important problems 
than re-inventing protocols, data formats and integration APIs.  They 
should not expose you to any risk that your efforts will be restricted 
by the agenda of a outside party.

Say no to patents.

-- Charles Forsythe
Received on Sunday, 8 December 2002 11:00:02 UTC

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