Comments on your Patent Policy

I believe that W3C has so far done a great job helping the Internet and WWW develop into a more standards-based network.  As a web programmer, I often reference many of your specifications.  These specifications help me because they are free to use, and unencumbered by patents.  I realize that this policy would allow W3C to work on standards based on or influenced by patents, such as SVG.  I believe that even though this promotes the proliferation of standards, the patent issues would severely jeopardize the adoption of those standards.  As you know, patents grant the owner the power to disallow use of the technology covered by the patent.  This goes completely against the concept of standards - which is to promote the widespread adoption of a technology.  There is no good reason to allow your standards to be based on patented technology.  If a member wants to promote technology covered by a patent, encourage that member to revoke its patent and place the technology into public domain.

As promoters of the PNG graphics standard, I would have hoped that W3C would have been more knowledgeable regarding the problems with patents.  Despite technological advances over GIF files, most users of PNG use it because it is unencumbered with patents.  Had PNG files been patented, the adoption rate would have been much slower than it is today.

The Internet and WWW developed in an open, largely patent-free environment.  I cannot imagine the Internet being as prosperous as it is today, and the WWW existing, if it had not been for that environment.  By allowing future standards to be tainted with patents we would severely jeopardize those standards.  I urge the W3C to reject the current patent policy, and continue to promote patent-free standards.

Tom Forsythe

Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 17:19:50 UTC