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Comments on 19 March 2003 Patent Policy

From: Ian B. Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Date: 28 Mar 2003 10:47:33 -0500
To: www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org
Message-Id: <1048866452.10728.236.camel@seabright>

Dear Patent Policy Working Group,

Congratulations on your progress in the 19 March 2003 Patent
Policy [1]. I have some comments below. I have additional
comments on the relation between the Patent Policy and the
Process Document that I will first discuss with the
Advisory Board.

Thank you,

 - Ian

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/2003/WD-patent-policy-20030319/


1) Abstract. 

  Current text includes: "The goal of this policy is to assure
  that Recommendations produced under this policy can be
  implemented on a Royalty-Free (RF) basis."

  I think the scope of the policy is broader than that. 
  Please consider instead this sort of sentence (from 
  this policy summary [2]):

   "The goal of the patent policy is to enable continued
   innovation and widespread adoption of Web standards developed
   by the World Wide Web Consortium."

  [2] http://www.w3.org/2003/03/19-patentsummary

2) 1. Overview.

  At the end of the section: "All numbered sections of this
  document (1-8), as well as hyperlinks to material within and
  outside of this document, are normative."

  I think this sentence can be struck. Instead change the title
  of "References" to "Normative References" and that should

3) 2. Licensing Goals for W3C Recommendations

  "To this end, Working Group charters will include..."

  My first thought was that this should read "must" instead of

  Then I wondered whether it was necessary at all for WG charters
  to include a reference to the Patent Policy. Since this policy
  will apply to all WGs, is there any need to include it in each
  charter? It could be that until all WGs have their charters
  revised there are some groups not yet subject to the policy so
  the explicit reference makes sense.

4) 3.1 W3C RF Licensing Requirements for All Working Group

  "each participant (W3C Members, W3C Team members, invited
  experts, and members of the public)"

  This is incorrect and should be rewritten:

  "each participant (Chair, Member representatives, Team
  representatives, and invited experts)"

5) 3.3. Licensing Commitments in W3C Submissions

  I propose that this entire section be included in the Process
  Document rather than be part of the Patent Policy.

6) 6.3. Disclosure Requests

  The Advisory Board has recently agreed to move the "status
  section requirements" that are in the Process Document to
  pubrules. Similarly, I propose that this sentence be a required
  part of W3C's publication rules (which we expect to become

   "Disclosure requests will be included in the "Status of This
   Document" section of each Recommendation track document as it
   reaches each new maturity level (Working Draft, Last Call
   Working Draft, Candidate Recommendation, Proposed
   Recommendation, Recommendation)."

  I think the rest of the paragraph should be made more specific:
  what are the PPWG's expectations about when other disclosure
  requests should be sent to AC reps? I ask this question because
  the current Process Document [3] sets expectations that
  disclosure reminders will be sent out at times earlier than
  required by the draft Patent Policy (e.g., when an Activity is
  proposed). Is the expectation in the proposed Patent Policy
  that there will not be reminders sent in Activity Proposals,
  Calls for Participation, etc.?

  [3] http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Process-20010719/

7) 7.3. PAG Composition

 "The PAG is composed of ..... Domain Leader ...."

 The role of Domain Leader is not part of the Process Document,
 nor is it defined in the Patent Policy. Thus, the Policy relies
 on a role that is largely internal to the Team for the purposes
 of resource management.

 I don't have a great counter-proposal, but perhaps something
 broader might work, as in:

  "Team Manager responsible for the Working Group"

8) 7.4.2. PAG Charter Requirements

 "The PAG, once convened, may propose changes to its charter as
 appropriate, to be accepted based on consensus of the PAG

 To be accepted by whom? By the PAG itself (i.e., there must be
 consensus within the PAG to make this proposal)?

 Then: "A single PAG may exist for the duration of the Working
 Group with which it is associated if needed."

 The "if needed" is superfluous; "MAY" suffices.

9) Please replace "latest version" links to the Process Document
   with links to a specific version (especially since the PPWG
   considers the referenced material to be normative).

10) 7.5.3. Procedure for Considering Alternate Licensing Terms

 I find the following sentence awkward: "The Director may also
 circulate the Proposal for Advisory Committee review without
 such endorsement."

 I would replace this with: "The call for review should indicate
 whether the Director supports the proposal."

 Or, if you prefer something closer to the original: "The
 Director may circulate the Proposal for Advisory Committee
 review even if the Director personally does not endorse the

11) 8.3. Definition of Normative, Optional and Informative

 "Implementation examples or any other material that merely
 illustrate the requirements of the Recommendation are
 informative, rather than normative."

 I don't think the patent policy has the authority to say what is
 normative in another specification. If a specification is
 unclear on such matters, this will affect implementers and other
 specifications, not just the patent policy. W3C should strive to
 ensure that Recommendations are clear on what is normative or
 not, but this is outside of the scope of the patent policy.

Ian Jacobs (ij@w3.org)   http://www.w3.org/People/Jacobs
Tel:                     +1 718 260-9447
Received on Friday, 28 March 2003 10:47:37 UTC

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