Unquantifiable Liability ? An Objection to the Patent Proposal

If it becomes it unclear whether a standard is freely usable or will incur
licence fees then how can organisations easily determine whether or not they
should use that standard, or even whether it is commercially feasible to use
that W3C standard ?

The draft proposal seems to allow patent holders to charge royalties even
after a standard has come into use, and offers no limitations on the size
and type of royalties involved in a RAND licence.  A 'reasonable' and
'nondiscriminatory' fee could easily be levied for each copy of a software
product, making the manufacturer liable for large sums of money on a product
that may have been widely distributed for no charge, as many client or
'reader' software products now are.

The net result is that small and medium-sized organisations may actively
_avoid_ some W3C standards since it may be difficult for them to determine
the total cost of incorporating them into their own products.

Unless it is made absolutely plain what is free, what is not and how much
royalties will be, using W3C standards may be perceived as a risk, and some
specifications will not become commonly accepted standards at all.

Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 16:17:02 UTC