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Re: ISO intellectual property (was Standards)

You may be interested in a paper I wrote on intellectual property and
standards organizations in 1999.  The executive summary follows.  I've
attached the document as a PDF.

This is not meant as legal advice and should not be taken as such.


Winchel "Todd" Vincent III
Attorney and Technical Consultant
Project Director, E-CT-Filing Project
Georgia State University College of Law

This document answers the questions raised at the September 17th , 1999,
Legal XML
meeting regarding Legal XML intellectual property policy and, specifically,
Part I is an introduction and short reminder of what transpired at the Legal

Part II is a layman's introduction to the concepts of "legal person" and
"rights." Part II
explains that Legal XML is not a "legal person" and that it cannot, as a
result, hold or
assert intellectual property rights as it is currently organized.

Part III is an cursory overview of copyright and patent law. Part III, A.
explains that "copyleft" is a type of license and applies both to copyright
and to patent
and is more appropriately termed "General Public License." Part III, B.
Copyright makes
clear that state government employees can assert copyright and that, while
government employees cannot assert copyright, they can still contribute to a
effort as coauthors and have their work protected by "General Public
 License" or

Part IV, A. explains the concept of a license. Part IV, B. explains that a
General Public
License usually grants the public free use of intellectual property embodied
in a standard.
Under a General Public License, documentation is usually not allowed to be
altered, but
software code is allowed to be altered, provided it remains "open." Part IV.
C. explains
how standards organizations use General Public Licenses to protect

Finally, Part V, A. concludes that Legal XML members must form a legal
entity or
associate themselves with a legal entity to create a manageable legal
supporting a workable intellectual property policy. Part V, B. briefly notes
that Legal
XML is concerned primarily with writing documentation, but that there should
be no
reason why a member cannot contribute software as well. Part V, C.
highlights again the
point that both federal and state government employees can contribute to a
process under a "GPL" or "copyleft" regime. Part V, D. concludes that
failure to
"copyleft" is dangerous and unwise for anyone wishing to contribute to an
open standards

----- Original Message -----
From: "Williams, David" <DAVID.WILLIAMS@ca.com>
To: <xml-dev@lists.xml.org>
Sent: Friday, August 03, 2001 1:39 PM
Subject: RE: ISO intellectual property (was Standards)

> Hey Len..
> <question>
> Don't take this the wrong way, please...
> What exactly, then, are you doing developing XML standards?
> </question>
> <re-phrase>
> What is it about XML that holds your interests and keeps you from lobbying
the ISO daily to "fix" and update SGML?
> </re-phrase>
> <statement of opinion>
> A casual reader might think that you don't like OR enjoy using and/or
developing XML....
> </statement of opinion>
> [Williams, David]
>  -----Original Message-----
> From: Bullard, Claude L (Len) [mailto:clbullar@ingr.com]
> Sent: Friday, August 03, 2001 1:07 PM
> To: Don Park; xml-dev@lists.xml.org
> Subject: RE: ISO intellectual property (was Standards)
> They admit that.  They also don't care.  They have a large body of
> moneyed members willing to implement their specifications.  On the
> other hand, the American courts have a tort for misappropriation that
> while not used in other countries' courts, is available in the country
> that has the most companies that are members of the W3C and
> have to abide by American contract law and disputes arbitrated
> in American courts.
> Remember, we are looking at the notions of standards, specifications, etc.
> and inquiring what the value of these are (why does the XML spec
> make reference to ISO 8879 if it doesn't need to, why do people insist
> on the W3C being a standards organization when the results are
> exactly the same with the current policies and processes).   IP is just
one level
> of this.  It is a good trail to follow because it outs several problems
> with authority (there is none and where there are assertions of such,
> they are all local (canadian, american, etc.) but the locale is important
> because that is the venue).    A bit more research may uncover other
> precedents old, new, or vague.  When it gets to a court, a panel
> of judges has to call that one.
> I didn't say the situation wasn't twisted.  It is.    It may also mean
> that the references out of the statutes in Texas, the sort of stuff
> XML.GOV promotes, etc., aren't worth a hill of beans in a contractual
> dispute.
> Hard to say.  No rules.
> And those simple designs of five years ago are getting awfully twisted
> too.  SGML looks good by comparison to that.  It needs some modernizing.
> That is something ISO should consider seriously.
> Len
> http://www.mp3.com/LenBullard <http://www.mp3.com/LenBullard>
> Ekam sat.h, Vipraah bahudhaa vadanti.
> Daamyata. Datta. Dayadhvam.h
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Don Park [mailto:donpark@docuverse.com]
> Both Common-XML and Minimal-XML are subsets of XML, so I guess the same
argument can be made that SML-DEV misappropriated W3C's intellectual
property.  Right or wrong, its a twisted trail.
> It was my understanding that W3C has trademarked the word "XML" and
copyrighted every specifications it produces.  If my understanding is right,
then W3C is claiming ownership over some words and a growing set of specific
word sequences, not ideas nor concepts.
> I care less about intellectual properties and more about good simple
designs.  For the past couple of weeks, I have been looking at SNMP in
detail.  I don't know about you guys, but SNMP goes in the same basket as