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

standards must not be subject to patents

From: Justin Chen-Wells <justin@semiotek.com>
Date: Tue, 31 Dec 2002 02:50:23 -0500 (EST)
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <20021231075023.39D1D3834A@fever.semiotek.com>

There is no place for a patent in an "open standard", period.

The current proposal offers to admit patented techniques into the
W3 standards if a special grant is made allowing the technique
to be used with the web. 

This is wrong-headed for two reasons. 

First, it would not be fair to a patent holder if the W3C, in the
future, extended the definition of "web infrastructure" to include
new technologies and techniques which may not now be considered
part of the web infrastructure. The W3C therefore would not be
allowed to extend and build on the current standards in the future.

It is crucial that the W3C be permitted to build on its current 
standards, and so this barrier to innovation and progress must 
be cast aside. Thus there is an unresolvable conflict between 
the interests of the patent holder and the future interests of
the web community, and as a result, patent restricted techniques
have no place in the standards of the W3C.

Second, it limits the development of web infrastructure. For it 
is by outside innovation and creativity that the infrastructure
of the web has been constructed: much of it passed to the W3C 
from outside hands. Successful and innovative techniques have
been widely adopted and subsequently standardized. Almost all 
of the core standards of the W3C were derived thus. 

By limiting development to approved "web infrastructures" only
this leading edge of creativity will be blunted: no innovation
will occur ahead of the standards curve, for that work shall 
be considered not a part of the "web infrastructure" and 
therefore subject to the restrictive patent. 

In order that the W3C members and general public receive the
benefit of outside innovation it is critical that innovators
be permitted to extend and experiment with W3C technologies
in any way they like--pushing out the definition and scope 
of "web infrastrcuture" as they go, in unforseen ways. 

The current policy is therefore shortsighted and may even 
ultimately doom the W3C to irrelevance, as creativivity and
innovation is directed elsewhere, and innovation on the web
infrastructure itself withers away. 

The current policy is therefore shortsighted, unhelpeful, 
suicidal, and unfair. It ought to be abandoned: patented
techniques may enrich their innovators justly, but ought 
not to be considered for inclusion in a W3C standard.

Justin Chen-Wells 
Received on Tuesday, 7 January 2003 03:01:49 UTC

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