W3C propsed patent policy

To whom it may concern,

As a user of the World Wide Web practically since the day of its 
inception, I am astounded by the W3C's latest patent policy 
recommentations. Let's look at the definition of patents (US version):

"to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention"

The whole point of the World Wide Web, and the Internet in general, is 
that it is supposed to be *inclusive* not exclusive; that it makes 
information available to all of those who need it. Your proposed policy 
to give sanction to patent holders to enforce royalty fees for the use 
of Internet technology is a betrayal of the trust put in you as a body, 
and a betrayal of the people whose free right of access to information 
is the entire reason for your own existence.

By the allowance of patents within W3C specifications you may make it 
much more expensive, and consequently more difficult, for people to 
publish on the Web, and more difficult for people to access information 
to enrich their lives. You propose a policy here that strikes deep at 
the very foundation of the Internet itself - that of the ability to 
self-organise and publish freely, openly, for the benefit of the entire 
world, and future generations.

On top of that, I fail to see any reason whatsoever for the neccessity 
of bringing in this new policy. In your own opening remarks you state:

"Both the competitive forces which have lead to innovative technology, 
and the cooperative spirit which has produced global interoperability 
standards at an extremely rapid pace have occurred, until very recently, 
in a market environment without any significant intellectual property 
licensing requirements."

In other words, things have been going great up until now just the way 
they are. Since this is in fact the case, I fail to see any justifiable 
reason for changing said policy... In fact I would argue that the 
changing of current policy will only stifle and retard innovation and 
interoperability rather than assist it. In fact, I do not see anywhere 
in the this document any reason *why* patent licensing should even be 

If it is so that a patent is deemed necessary for inclusion with the W3C 
specifications, I would call for it *only* on the basis of the RF, with 
the following change in language:

*  may not be conditioned on payment of royalties, fees or other 
consideration, in perpetuity

* must require that all licensees make any Essential Claims they control 
available to all on a no-royalty basis, in perpetuity [note change of 
first word in this clause from "may" to "must"]

These changes would then make it impossible for any patent holder to use 
such patent to stifle innovation or reduce publication of information on 
the World Wide Web.

I also note that three of the four authors of this document work for the 
two largest operating system patent holders in the world. It appears 
clear that the companies for which these authors work may have strong 
financial gains to reap if this policy is accepted. Therefore, I accuse 
these authors of conflict of interest in bringing forth this policy, and 
call for its striking down on said grounds of conflict of interest. I 
also call for the re-examination of the composition of the W3C Patent 
Policy Working Group as a body, since the very fact that such a document 
can be brought forward as proposed policy sheds a very bad light on the 
W3C as a whole.

I am also extremely disappointed and angered at what appears to be the 
very short time allowed for comment on this paper. It seems to me that 
the Working Group are attempting to push this policy through without 
allowing enough time for criticism from their peers and the public, and 
I find this highly objectionable. Also, the fact that they appear to be 
doing this deliberately implies that they realise themselves that their 
policy is misguided and are attempting to have it adopted before 
legitimate criticism can stop it. It is my sincere hope that they fail.


Rodney Orpheus
Technology Evangelist
Steinberg Media Technologies AG

Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 14:10:01 UTC