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Patent Policy 2020 for Spec Editors

From: fantasai <fantasai.lists@inkedblade.net>
Date: Tue, 15 Sep 2020 17:03:37 -0400
To: spec-prod <spec-prod@w3.org>
Cc: "chairs@w3.org" <chairs@w3.org>
Message-ID: <11cef7b4-4f75-c889-e515-a221d49a633f@inkedblade.net>
Patent Policy 2020 is taking effect today, 15 September 2020.
IANAL, so please consult yours to fully understand the implications.
But as a spec editor, here's what you need to know about the W3C Patent Policy.

First, a few reminders about the W3C Patent Policy, both 2004/2017 and 2020:

* It is based on participation in the WG, not on contributions. All 
participants are equally obligated, not just the contributor.

* Contrary to popular belief, the Patent Policy does cover Working Drafts. 
(Roughly speaking, WG participants are committed to the contents of each 
published WD, CRD, or candidate change annotation unless they exclude at their 
next opportunity or the material is dropped, even though that commitment does 
not become a licensing obligation until later, and even if they resign before 
that obligation takes effect.)

* The Patent Policy DOES NOT cover documents not published on /TR. Editor's 
Drafts, PRs in GitHub, comments in issues, Google Documents, emails, and 
meeting minutes are not protected at all.

So publish your work officially, early and often.


Next, what you need to know about the 2020 changes:

1. Although Process 2020 is taking effect across all groups automatically and 
immediately, the Patent Policy updates are not. See 
https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Member/chairs/2020JulSep/0076.html for the 
transition plan.

2. Specs published on /TR will need to indicate their governing Patent Policy. 
Make sure you're on the latest ReSpec or Bikeshed builds and check the SOTD 
output to make sure it's configured correctly for your group.

3. For groups operating under Patent Policy 2020, licensing obligations will 
take effect on CR Snapshots as well as Recommendations.

4. Licensing commitments carry from one CR or REC to the next provided that 
the changes would have been in scope for the original charter. So if you're 
planning on significantly changing the scope of your spec over time, have a 
chat with Wendy first.


Full text of the Patent Policy is available at
    https://www.w3.org/Consortium/Patent-Policy/

~fantasai
Received on Tuesday, 15 September 2020 21:03:51 UTC

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