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Comment to W3C Patent Policy

From: Markus Schaber <markus.schaber@student.uni-ulm.de>
Date: Wed, 20 Nov 2002 10:41:33 +0100
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <20021120104133.5d3005a5.markus.schaber@student.uni-ulm.de>
Hello,

I am a student of Computer Science in southern Germany, and work as a
webdesigner, software developer and consultant to earn some money.

I think it is important that all standards can be implemented without
paying patent fees. This doesn't mean that there can't exist patents,
for some or all ways of implementing it, but there must either exist a
non-patented way of implementation (without dropping functionality), or
a license that allows implementation of this standard for free. (This
licence must not restrict the implementor wr/t use, licensing,
distribution etc. of his standards-implementing software. But it may not
apply to _other_ uses of the patent that are not related to the
standard.)

All great technologies (e. G. windowed GUIs with mouse, the IP Protocol
suite, the html hypertext format, the unixoid OS API etc.) only got
widespread because there were no patents and other restrictions that
were used to limit them. (Even GIF got widespread only because the
patent owner did _not_ really enforce their patent.) Thus, innovation,
interoperability and a big market can only achieved with open standards
and affordable licenses.

Another point is that big companies often have patent cross licensing,
this means that they don't "harm" each other, but newcomers and small
companies have no chance to get into the market just because they cannot
afford to pay the patents. This is bad from several point of views:

First, lots of countries suffer from a high rate of unemployed people.
Statistics from several sources (e. G. the OECD and the "Statistisches
Bundesamt" in Germany) say that small companies have more jobs per
turnover compared to big companies. This means that preventing small
companies from taking part increases the problem of unemployment.

Second, small companies pay more taxes that big companies. (In Germany,
it is fact that the "global players" effectively get more money out than
they pay, while the small and middle companies pay over 70% of the state
income. Thus, closing the door for small companies will enforce the
financial problems for our gouvernments.

Third, lots of products and innovations are created by small companies,
simply because those need to produce better, cheaper or revolutionary
new products to gain market share, whereas big, established companies
can afford expensive marketing to keep or extend their market share. New
players have a high pressure to innovate, while established players have
a pressure to keep innovation low (thus saving money because they need
less development). As we want innovation, this means that we need to
allow new players to take part in the game.

Fourth, innovation often emerges from non-commercial development driven
by universities, science institutions, open source communities etc. This
development will be cut by patents covering open standards and will lead
to illegal implementations and the development of alternative standards
free (see the history of mp3 and the free ogg vorbis format). But
forcing some implementors to use alternative standards counterfights the
initial idea of creating a standard.

Thanks for your Patience,
Markus Schaber

PS: English is not my native tongue, so please be forgiving :-)

Received on Wednesday, 20 November 2002 05:17:28 GMT

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