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Re: (Second) Last Call for XPointer 1.0

  Hi Eliotte,

 first a word. I represent myself, I do not represent W3C (I don't
even work for W3C anymore) but I can try to clarify rectify a few issues:

On Tue, Jan 09, 2001 at 09:35:06AM -0500, Elliotte Rusty Harold wrote:
> There's a much more significant issue raised in this draft for the 
> first time than the question of how to map namespace prefixes. It's 
> also come to light in this draft that Sun claims a patent on some of 
> the technologies needed to implement XPointer.

  Note that the Patent Issue is not raised for the first time, I think
it was linked from the XPointer spec status sections since the first
Last Call version (i.e. when we noticed it).

> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-xml-linking-comments/2000OctDec/0092.html
> I think this is particularly offensive because Eve L. Maler, a Sun
> employee, serves as co-chair of the XML Linking Working Group and a
> co-editor of the XPointer specification.

  I will note that:
    - Eve wan't chair of the WG nor even working for Sun when this
      patent issue arose.
    - I have tried to represent the Open source community when dealing
      with this issue and I recognize that Eve actaully made her best
      to try to solve this as cleanly as possible.

 Basically she (and I) inherited the mess and tried to get this fixed.

> As usual, Sun wants to use this
> as a club to lock implementers and users into a licensing agreement that
> goes beyond what Sun and the W3C could otherwise demand. For instance
> they want to force you to grant your own modifications and experiments
> back to the W3C.

  My understanding is that if you use code which claim being XPointer,
but extend the syntax or capabilities of your code, you need to document
those extensions, and make them available to W3C. 
  As the implementor of an XPointer version I was initially annoyed by
this and we tried to work it out so that assuming I would have inadvertantly
derived from XPointer I would not get troubles. I was told that either the
fact of publishing the code or have changes documented in the library
docs would be sufficient.
  That was enough for me, but lawyers code is fairly inpenetrable for me
so i would appreciate if the community manage to get something clearer from
Sun's lawyers.

> The specific patent is United States Patent No. 5,659,729, Method and
> system for implementing hypertext scroll attributes, issued to Jakob
> Nielsen in 1997.
> (Apologies if that URL gets wrapped by my mailer; there's a direct link
> from today's Cafe con Leche, http://www.ibiblio.org/xml) The patent was
> filed on February 1, 1996. It claims:
>      Embodiments of the present invention use a new extension to the HTML
>      language to support remotely specified named anchors. A remotely
>      specified named anchor, when embedded within a source document,
>      instructs a browser program to access a portion of a destination
>      document indicated in the remotely specified named anchor. When the
>      browser program reads a remotely specified named anchor such as
>      <a href=http://foo.com/bar.html/SCROLL="Some Text"> from the
>      source document, the browser program performs the following steps:
>      1) the browser retrieves the destination file "bar.html" from the
>      server "foo.com", 2) the browser searches the file bar.html for
>      "Some Text", and 3) if the browser finds the character swing being
>      searched for, then the browser displays the file bar.html, scrolled
>      to the line containing the first character of the character string
>      being searched for.
> It's very questionable whether this is truly an original invention with
> no prior art.

  I think all the parties (except Sun's maybe :) around can
agree this paten should not have been granted on basic prior art
examination. It's just the N+1th stupid Patent reistered for no
good reasons.
  One thing I would note is that I would prefer the community to
start taking actions against people trying to enforce those bogus
patents than those who managed to register them but don't harm,
I personally feel far far more concerned by British Telecom attempt
to make cash from any kind of linking on the web than of this patent
from Sun targetting a very specific part.

  Last but not least, XPointer is supposed to apply to XML content
and this stupid patent namedly targetted it to HTML and browser,
this might impede XHTML deployment but if Sun were trying to chase
people doing XPointer usage for XML libraries and data, the point that
it's used for XML and not HTML could be something helping to defend the
case in court.

> HyperCard and Xanadu both had capabilities like this. It's
> also questionable whether the patent as written really applies to
> XPointer. For instance, the patent mandates a certain behavior of
> browsers. XPointer doesn't. I also think that the proposed "XPointer
> patent terms and conditions" are unenforceable as currently published.

  I mostly agree

> I recommend complete rejection of this specification until such time as
> Sun's patent can be dealt with more reasonably.

Do you plan to reject use of Linking on the Web due to BT patent too ???
If not what's so specific about this patent.
As a Frenchmen I would rather reject all Patent crap which makes rich
cororations of Lawyers and kill people trying to get a place under the

  IMHO you're trying to fight the wrong problem. We just managed to learn
about this patent. How many similar patent would IBM hold on other parts
of XPointer that we simply didn't heard of ??? We can't chase them all
and if we did we would make no progress every effort would be wasted
doing those Patent lookups and fighting them :-(((


Red Hat but speaking for himself

Daniel Veillard      | Red Hat Network http://redhat.com/products/network/
daniel@veillard.com  | libxml Gnome XML toolkit  http://xmlsoft.org/
http://veillard.com/ | Rpmfind RPM search engine http://rpmfind.net/