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patent pending -- is this a bad precedent

From: Daniel Hellerstein <danielh@MAILBOX.ECON.AG.GOV>
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 1998 10:03:20 -0500
Message-Id: <s4ed55fb.025@MAILBOX.ECON.AG.GOV>
To: www-talk@w3.org
I've been tangentially  following the disscussion of the "patent-pending"
CCG schema for improving search performance.  Correct me if I am
wrong, but this seems to be a proposal to patent an HTML element, and
perhaps a way for servers & clients to use this element.  It is NOT a
patent (copyright?) for the code in an actual program.

If so, my primary reaction is that this is a BAD thing.  Despite it's possible
technical merits, and the fact that Mr. Mills seems like a reasonable
fellow,  the absence of prioprietary standards may be the most
important reason for the success of the tcp/ip paradigm (with http and
httml as subsets of this paradigm).  To start (hasten?) the carving up of
this common property would  jeoporadize this fundamental strength.

Putting on my theoretical hat: the market is notoriously bad at providing
"public goods", of which tcp/ip et al  is a classic example (my use of this
knowledge does not cost you anything).  The genius behind the internet
is that this public goods aspect was recognized, at the same time that
sufficient incentives and structure were provided for coherent growth.  

That is: a  pure "let the market decide" approach probably has more
costs then benefits.
Received on Friday, 20 February 1998 10:09:13 UTC

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