RAND license is effectively impossible

The Patent Policy Working Group's FAQ contains this point with respect 
to RAND patent terms:

    * "may be conditioned on payment of reasonable, non-discriminatory
      royalties or fees;"

The term "non-discriminatory" effectively makes RAND patent terms 
impossible in the context of an World Wide Web that includes open source 
and free software.  This is immediately apparent, since software created 
and distributed for no renumeration cannot afford _any_ royalties.  As 
such, it is impossible for a patent to require royalties and still be 
provided on "non-discriminatory" terms to _all_ interested parties.

Unless the W3C wishes to explicitly take the position that open source 
or free implementations of its specifications are no longer wanted or 
supported by the W3C thay may wish to reconsider the allowance of RAND 

Since the Web became prevalent due to the work of the free software 
community (NCSA Mosaic), and has become widespread due to the work of 
the open source community (Apache), it would be disheartening for the 
W3C to take this position.

Stephen Drye

Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 16:39:28 UTC