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

Royalty free patents

From: IAK <iakbv007@euronet.nl>
Date: Thu, 28 Nov 2002 08:03:01 +0100
Message-ID: <3DE5BFA5.60702@euronet.nl>
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org

Hello,

I've read this (see below) article where in the view of the new patent 
policy from the FSF is outlined. I must agree on this. I believe free 
and open software is necessary for the growth of technology. As 
information is shared between scientists around the world. Companies 
should be able to make money, but not at the cost of progress of the 
society.
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The Free Software Foundation, represented by its General Counsel, 
Professor Eben Moglen of Columbia University Law School, participated in 
the W3 Consortium Patent Policy Working Group from November 2001 through 
the current Last Call draft. The Foundation regards the current Last 
Call draft, which proposes the adoption of a "royalty-free" or "RF" 
patent policy, as a significant step in the direction of protecting the 
World Wide Web from patent-encumbered standards. But the proposed policy 
is not an adequate final outcome from the Foundation's point of view.

The proposed policy permits W3C members participating in W3 technical 
working groups to commit their patent claims "royalty-free" for use by 
implementers of the standard, but with "field of use" restrictions that 
would be incompatible with section 7 of the GNU General Public License. 
Such "field of use" restrictions, in other words, would prevent 
implementation of W3C standards as Free Software.

Section 7 of the GNU GPL is intended to prevent the distribution of 
software which appears to be Free (because it is released under a 
copyright license guaranteeing the freedoms to use, copy, modify, and 
redistribute) but which cannot, in fact, be modified and redistributed 
because of patent license restrictions that limit the use of patent 
claims practiced by the software to a particular purpose. Though other 
Free Software licenses may not happen to contain provisions equivalent 
to GPL's Section 7, this does not imply that programs released under 
those licenses will be Free Software if the patent claims contributed 
"royalty-free" to the standard those programs implement are limited to a 
particular field of use.

As an example, W3 members may contribute patent claims to a standard 
describing the behavior of web servers providing particular 
functionality. A Free Software program implementing that standard would 
be available for others to copy from, in order to add functionality to 
browsers, or non-interactive web clients. But if, as the present 
proposed policy permits, the patent-holder has licensed the practicing 
of its patent claims "royalty-free" only "in order to implement the 
standard", reuse of the relevant code in these latter environments would 
still raise possible patent infringement problems.
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Kind regards,

Sander
Received on Thursday, 28 November 2002 02:57:15 GMT

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