W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org > April 2003

Horrible idea

From: Tod Harter <tharter@giantelectronicbrain.com>
Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2003 15:02:37 -0500
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <200304041502.37874.tharter@giantelectronicbrain.com>

This is a horrible idea. It means that any organization that wishes to can 
EMBRACE AND EXTEND any standard they own a patent on a part of. In essence 
they give out a free license to use 'Open Foo Protocol V1.0' but what happens 
when everyone decides they need 'Secure Open Foo Protocol'? Then they're all 
at the mercy of the patent holder, who hasn't licensed their technology for 
THAT use. One can come up with other similar scenarios as well. Essentially 
the end result is that holders of these patents can control when and where 
the GPL or similar licenses can be applied.

Another objection is that it is not at all clear that GPL is compatible with 
this sort of mechanism. Suppose 'Free Foo' wants to use the 'Open Foo 
Protocol'. It would link to code which would be ENCUMBERED by this patent 
restriction. This would require at least a codicile to the license, which 
would have to be approved by ALL the owners of the project. Projects such as 
the Linux Kernel have no clear ownership. 1000's of people have rights to 
code contained within them. There is no reasonable way that such a project 
could ever incorporate patented restricted-use code.

The W3C has historically stood for the concept that standards impose no 
barriers to competition. It needs to stay that way.

Tod Harter
Giant Electronic Brain
Received on Friday, 4 April 2003 16:01:17 UTC

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