- Delete first paragraph of 2.2.1. -- If you're not going to RF license
your patents, you don't get to stay in the development group. This is a
weasel clause that invalidates the whole RF idea. I'm willing to tolerate
the second paragraph, since by that time, participation has already occurred,
and a (theoretically) unforeseen patent issue has arisen.
- Item 2.2.3: I am somewhat confused. "...must exclude Essential Claims
covered in the requirements document immediately upon joining the Working
Group." Does this mean that they exclude their patents from the RF terms?
If so, I object. This item should indicate that if you join an existent
working group after the initial 60 day period, and you have patent issues,
you must either immediately withdraw, or RF license your patents, after some
grace period. Once the grace period expires, you're required to RF license
your patents, just as though you passed the 60 day initial WG formation grace
period without disclosure. Since the WG will already have been in operation
for some time, and any prospective participant would have had that time to
consider patent issues, the grace period should be LESS than 60 days.
- Item 2.2.4: I'm not very happy with this, but I'm not sure how to handle
it either. There can be situations where the participants are not aware
of a patent in progress, even if their company would be the eventual holder
of said patent. However, the way it is currently worded allows "submarine
patents": patents filed for, and deliberately kept pending/unpublished, for
the express purpose of later filing an exclusion that affects an already
developed standard. While this can certainly happen with non-participants,
it should never happen with participants. Particularly because a participant
might deliberately push a standard in a direction that it would not otherwise
go, if the existence of the patent was known beforehand.
- Item 2.4: However, "invited experts" who are aware of existent, pending,
or unpublished patents should at least make known that such patents exist,
even if they do not disclose the exact nature of those patents. At that
time, the working group can make a "conflict of interest" decision, on whether
or not to continue their relationship with the "invited expert". I note
the existence of Items 4.5 and 4.8, but am concerned that Item 2.4 would
appear to limit the disclosure requirements to only those which the "invited
expert" controls directly.
- Item 3: Part 7: "...choice of law and dispute resolution." I suppose
asking the W3C to nail down the process would be rather difficult, given
the international nature of standards, but this clause does make me nervous,
given the possibility of both deliberate, and unforeseen, consequences of
requiring enforcement under the laws of a particular country. For example:
a fundamentalist muslim country might choose to implement laws that state
that any patents issues that their law covers require that patent to never
be used for any purpose conducive to pornography. (Granted, this may be
reaching a bit, but I've heard stranger!) Given the nature of the web, any
standard developed by the W3C could easily be used for such purposes.
- Item 4.4: Nope. As soon as you are aware of such a patent, disclosure
of at least the existence of the patent must be made.
- In light of 4.4, I think a clause should be added that if a patent
is being filed for on the basis of activities by a WG, it must be declared
immediately, and must be immediately licensed according to the W3C RF terms.
Otherwise, you're inviting people to quietly stake claims to what would
otherwise be open knowledge. The other earlier exclusion clauses could make
it possible to completely avoid RF licensing, so long as the actual member
of the WG does not know of the patent filing. (In other words, if you're
mooching off of W3C work, you might get your patent, but you don't get to
charge for it, assuming that it ends up in the recommendation.)
- Item 4.6: I'm not sure why, but that last sentence makes me nervous.
Given the nature of the issues, I'm overall pleased at how well this document
has turned out; in spite of my objections to certain portions of the document.
NOTE: I am not an official representative of Northrop Grumman,
or any portion of that company. In this issue, I represent only myself.