Comment on patent policy proposal

I am the senior systems and network engineer for a small nonprofit
that largely does research and development in K-12 math and
science education.  The web plays an increasingly important role
for us both in research and in delivering the results of research
to the public.  We depend to a great extent on open standards in
general, and open source software in particular, to be able to
make effective use of the web within our budgetary constraints.
As I am sure you are aware, much of the most innovative and useful
open source software is often, at least initially, the product of
one person working in his or her spare time.  Such people do not
have the time or resources to deal with the barriers to entry
presented by RAND licensing:  if they find or even anticipate such
a barrier in their path, they will too often simply find something
else to do with their spare time.  Discouraging innovation in this
way risks stifling the main sources of new technologies and
capabilities on the internet, all for the sake of providing direct
financial rewards to a comparatively small number of patent
holders.  It is not a good tradeoff.

When a company's patented technology is incorporated into a w3c
standard, there is value in that, and the combined value of
first-mover advantage and the imprimatur of a w3c standard can
be quite significant.  It is fair and reasonable to require that a
company pay for that value by forgoing royalties on the patent.

In short, I am opposed to the policy proposal, and I believe that
if implemented, it will significantly damage innovation on the

---Carl Alexander
xela at
Cambridge, Mass.

Received on Sunday, 30 September 2001 21:42:29 UTC