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News Release: World Wide Web Consortium to Investigate Patent Validity

From: Janet Daly <janet@w3.org>
Date: Mon, 03 May 1999 11:08:38 -0400
Message-ID: <372DBC09.EEC42EB@w3.org>
To: w3c-news@w3.org

World Wide Web Consortium to Investigate Patent Validity
W3C Issues Call to Developers for Information


W3C Contacts

     USA, Asia
          Janet Daly, <janet@w3.org>, +1.617.253.5884
          Ned Mitchell, <ned@ala.com>, +33 1 43 22 79 56
          Andrew Lloyd, <allo@ala.com>, +44 1 27 367 5100

     http://www.w3.org/ -- 3 May 1999 --The World Wide Web Consortium
(W3C) announced today that it is investigating the status of a patent
claim which threatens open access to privacy protection technology known

as the Platform for Privacy Preferences (P3P). To aid in its
investigative efforts, W3C is calling on the Web Community for help in
locating "prior art," technology whose existence could be relevant to
the validity of the patent.

     "There are growing incompatibilities between patents and open
standards; the trend towards filing patents in areas where standards is
already underway is cause for both concern and action," stated Daniel J.

Weitzner, Technology and Society Domain Leader of  W3C. "The Web and
developer communities can be instrumental in providing the evidence
required to render questionable patents invalid, thereby maintaining an
open Web."

     The Importance of P3P

     P3P's design keeps users informed of sites' privacy practices, and
allows them to control what information they choose to disclose to a Web

site, as well as how that information may be used. P3P privacy
disclosures and requests for information are expressed in the W3C's
widely deployed Extensible Markup Language (XML).

     P3P technology grows from a consensus process involving
representatives from more than a dozen W3C member organizations, as well

as invited privacy experts from around the world.

     Questions Posed by Intermind Patent

     Intermind recently received a U.S. patent, and has indicated that
the patent may be infringed upon by W3C metadata standards, particularly

P3P. The patent covers storage  and transfer of "consumer" and
"provider" information between two computers using a metadata control
structure. Intermind has further stated that its "patents cover numerous

additional features" of other communications technologies.

     Recent software patents have been successfully challenged by the
Web community because technology that the patent holder claimed was
original, and deserving of patent protection, had actually be invented
and disclosed already. Challenging patents by identifying pre-existing
technology, referred to as "prior art," often has the effect of
invalidating a patent altogether, or at least narrowing the scope of its


     What W3C is Doing

     W3C has begun researching the validity and applicability of this
patent, and is seeking information concerning any software or systems
that predate the Intermind patent and can be described as follows:

     A network system or architecture where a client (such as a browser)

and a server exchange information using a control structure defined by
metadata (e.g. expressed in XML) which describes

        1.  how to transfer updated information from the server to the
        2.  how to transfer feedback information, and updates to that
information, from the client to the server, and
        3.  how to process the exchanged information by reference to the

control structure.

     Additionally, the receiving device must be able to process the
metadata using instructions external to the control structure.

     Those aware of publications, specifications, software programs,
books, systems or any other information about any technology that
performed any of these functions prior to February 29, 1995 (or less
desirably, February 29, 1996) can send such information to
patent-prior-art@w3.org and include the following information:

          Name of the publication or system
          Date of the publication or date system was publicly known
          Where the publication or system can be found (i.e. university,

reference library,
          company, contact person)

     Further details and patent citations are provided at

     About the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

     The W3C was created to lead the Web to its full potential by
developing common protocols that promote its evolution and ensure its
interoperability. It is an international industry consortium jointly run

by the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science (MIT LCS) in the USA, the
National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA)
in France and Keio University in Japan. Services provided by the
Consortium include: a repository of information about the World Wide Web

for developers and users, reference code implementations to embody and
promote standards, and various prototype and sample applications to
demonstrate use of new technology. To date, over 320 organizations are
Members of the Consortium.


Janet Daly
Head of Public Relations, W3C

MIT/LCS                               +1 617 253 5884 (voice)
NE43-344                        +1 617 258 5999 (facsimile)
545 Technology Square                          janet@w3.org
Cambridge, MA 02139                  http://www.w3.org/
Received on Monday, 3 May 1999 11:13:31 UTC

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