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Where we are with the RAND exception proposal

From: Daniel Weitzner <djweitzner@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2002 11:29:00 -0400
To: "Www-Patentpolicy-Comment@W3. Org" <www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org>

Several of commenters have been critical (to say the least) of the fact that
the W3C Patent Policy Working Group (PPWG) is considering a RAND exception
process. The WG is not yet prepared to share a draft of this proposal,
however, because the draft is neither complete nor does it have WG support
behind it. We may decide to advance no proposal at all, or we may find one
that has enough support in the PPWG to make public. Most importantly, if and
when the WG does develop a full proposal, it will be circulated for public
and W3C Member comment before any final policy is adopted. That is the
commitment we made [1] when we took steps to open the patent policy process
up to public input, and we will stick with it.

I do want to explain a bit about why this proposal is being discussed and
what will happen with it in the future.

First, whether or not the WG does actually decide to include some sort of
RAND exception process in the RF policy, the entire policy proposal will be
circulated for at least two more rounds of public and Member comment before
final approval by W3C. There will be a second Last Call period and then
another public draft circulated based on issues raised during Last Call.
More details on the schedule of these reviews will become announced after
the PPWG Face-to-Face meeting next week (15-17 July).

Second, we are considering various RAND exceptions to the RF policy because
we are trying to build consensus amongst a very diverse group of interested.
The Open Source community (now represented on the PPWG by Larry Rosen(OSI),
Eben Moglen (FSF/Columbia Law School) and Bruce Perens (SPI)) is one
important constituency, but not the only one. Companies that have large
patent portfolios and are used to RAND standard-setting processes are also
major participants in setting and implementing W3C standards. We're looking
at various RAND exception proposals because the PPWG is trying to find a
consensus position that everyone, or almost everyone, can support. To date,
we do not have sufficient support on the WG for any of these proposals, but
as Chair of the group I want to make sure we have looked at all options that
might form the basis for consensus. This may be bad news for those who think
that their own opinions should be accepted absolutely, but I feel that there
is real value in trying to find a position that has broad support across
W3C's many constituencies, provided it doesn't endanger W3C's core mission.

Finally, it is not a suprise to those who are following this process that we
are talking about some sort of RAND exception. That PPWG was asked to
explore the proper role of RAND, if any, by the W3C Advisory Committee, [2]
and we've had a placeholder in our drafts to that effect since February
2002. Several commenters on this list have pointed this out.

We may conclude that there is no role for RAND at all, or we may find some
narrow exception process that is considered useful. I ask that everyone
concerned about this question stay tuned for the next public draft and give
it a careful look. In the meantime, I have forwarded pointers to the
comments over the last few days to the Patent Policy WG members.

Thanks to everyone who continues to provide substantive comments on W3C's
patent policy.

Danny Weitzner
Chair, W3C Patent Policy WG



Daniel J. Weitzner                              +1.617.253.8036 (MIT)
World Wide Web Consortium                       +1.202.364.4750 (DC)
Technology & Society Domain Leader              <djweitzner@w3.org>
Received on Wednesday, 10 July 2002 11:28:02 UTC

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