Open Standards x Patents

It appears to me that a RAND license could require fees not only from
companies that introduce a technology into say their web browser, but
also from every user of such browser.

The situation is already bad enough with the number of web developers
that only care about MSIE.  Should MS's big pockets be able to license
a standard that becomes relevant in the web picture while open-source
browsers, developed by groups of volunteers, are left out of the
picture, this would only get worse.

Now, what if the patent holder decides to demand a fee from every user
of the browser that contains the feature covered by the patent?  GNU
GPL-licensed browsers just couldn't implement the feature, because the
patent would turn the software non-distributable because of the
conflict between the GNU GPL and the limitations imposed by the

And what about proprietary browsers?  Even if the user were willing to
give up that feature, s/he could have no way to disable it in a
proprietary browser (and would the patent holder care if there were?),
so the user would be forced to pay the licensing fees even if the
browser itself were totally free of charge.  But could it be made
available for free download, like most browsers these days?  Hmm...
Perhaps letting patented technology into the W3 standards is not such
a bad idea, after all? :-D

Go, Mozilla, Go!

Alexandre Oliva   Enjoy Guarana', see
Red Hat GCC Developer                  aoliva@{,}
CS PhD student at IC-Unicamp        oliva@{,}
Free Software Evangelist    *Please* write to mailing lists, not to me

Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 16:02:43 UTC