Comment on proposed "RAND" policy

The W3C has proposed a "Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory" patent policy
under which it will include in its standards for the Web technology that is
protected by patent and requires royalties to be paid for the use of the
technology (and by implication the use of the standard).

By the very definition given for a "Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory"
patent policy, the policy is both unreasonable and discriminatory against
free/open-source software.  According to estimates, such software runs 60%
of the Internet.

In my view, if the W3C adopts such a policy, it will have forfeited its
right to expect its standards to be honored by the community of Internet
users.  It will also create an incentive for the establishment of a
competing standards body within the voluntary, consensus standards
community that does not allow patented technology to be included in its
standards without (as I understand it) royalty-free release of the patent
to the public domain.

Also, if I recall correctly, there was recent litigation in the US in which
the holder of a patent included in a standard without disclosure to the
standards committee lost its right to collect royalties because such a
policy was violated.  

Stanley Klein

Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 15:55:48 UTC