Royalty-Bound Patents in Web Standards


Dear Sirs/Madams: 

I have read the W3C's FAQ on the proposed new patent policy, and I must say that I  

am shocked. What happened to ensuring a World Wide Web based on open standards  

promoting interoperability? 

By allowing patented technologies to be part of an open standard, the W3C committee  

is putting the World Wide Web in the hands of those who can pay the most. If you  

can't afford to pay the royalty and licensing fees for the technologies which are part of  

the standard, then your client or server may not incorporate them. This would  

effectively kill non-commercial (i.e. Open Source) programs that cannot afford the  

necessary fees to make their programs W3C compliant. Currently I use three browsers  

to "surf the internet" - Konqueror, Mozilla and Internet Explorer, all of them reasonably  

W3C compliant to varying degrees. I use the browser that suits my purposes at the  

time, however under this new policy, Konqueror and Mozilla probably won't be able to  

remain W3C compliant, as the groups that created those browsers do not have the  

finances to pay royalty fees. 

I also can't help but notice that all of the companies on this proposal are rather large  

companies, and also happen to have their own agendas. Microsoft, for example, would  

love to patent key technologies on the WWW that only Internet Explorer can use.  

They've already patented their ASF video codec, and threatened one person who  

reverse engineered it with a lawsuit, thus ensuring that only Microsoft software may use  

it. Is this the future that the W3C really wants? I can't seriously believe that any smaller  

companies (noticably absent from the proposal) would really consent to this. 

I would have hoped that we all would have learned from such things as the Unisys GIF  

and Rambus litigations, and would have thought this through more clearly. It seems that  

such has not happened. 

As an amateur web master, I adhere to the W3C standards by the letter, running all of  

my HTML code through the W3C validators to ensure compatibility with W3C  

compliant browsers. Under this proposal, W3C compliancy is now reduced to a sham,  

as there will most likely be only one W3C compliant browser. 

Thank you for your time, and I really hope that you will please reconsider this move. 

Yours truly,

Joe Votour 








Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 15:29:36 UTC