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RE: ISO intellectual property (was Standards)
- From: David LeBlanc <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- To: Tom Bradford <email@example.com>, Don Park <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2001 12:14:54 -0700
Hope you don't mind my barging in...
> > Don Park wrote:
> > 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.
> According to international copyright law, any document that is produced
> is automatically protected by copyright, registered or not. But from
> what I understand, it doesn't disallow derived works, or external
> referencing from other documents. If it did, the entire WWW would be a
> massive copyright violation. And a trademark only protectes the use of
> a name, not a process or specification.
You can refer to anything without penalty, but derivation is copyright
There is a difference between a registered trademark and a simple trademark.
Registered marks take awhile to get, are fairly expensive and invloves
"clearing" the word to ensure it has not been previously used (phrases are
"service marks" and they too can be registered), public notification (often
done in obscure newspapers published primarliy for the purpose) and payment
of a fairly hefty fee to the registering agency. At least in the past,
Tunisia was a popular place to register trademarks since it's fees where so
WRT to "XML" itself, the W3C may have claimed a trademark, but I question
it's validity (ymmv - consult competent legal counsel if it really matters).
You can claim tradmark on almost any word, but there are restrictions: you
can't successfully trademark well known words in common use such as "Supreme
Court", nor is trademarking numeric strings such as "8086" allowed (Intel
tried this and lost). I don't think TLA's are trademarkable either, but
since the W3C has bigger legal guns then I have or will ever hope to have..
OTOH, "Mini-XML" isn't the same as "XML". I'm not at all clear on this, but
I don't think you own all uses of a word. For example Microsoft can't get
away with trademarking or registering "Word", but "MsWord" they can since
it's unique. It doesn't preclude someone from trademarking/registering, for
> So things like Common-XML and Minimal-XML are perfectly within their
> right to derive from XML, just as the W3C was perfectly within its
> rights to dervice from SGML and even go so far as to make references to
> ISO documents.
You can quote from it under the "fair usage" doctrine, but wholesale
importation of text is infringing. This is like a habbit i've heard of done
by the GPL gang: Taking an open source, adding some relatively small
additions to the work and then publishing (making avalilable) under the GPL
with the idea that they've defeated the original copyright holder's intent.
This is clearly plagarism/theft of intellectual property. (Little tricks
like this is what is ultimately going to lead to the downfall of the GPL
imo. BTW, this is not something I made up - i've chatted with authors so
If by derivation you mean "take ideas from" or use "standard elements from"
(like the dtd) and write your own document, that's totally legal. As noted,
you own only the expression of the idea, not the idea itself.
> > 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 SGML.
> I dunno, I think considering how complex and twisted XML has become, I'd
> rather write a bunch of SNMP hooks.
<shudder> I agree. People who do drugs ought not to be allowed to write
network protocols, at least not while high ;-) Ditto for SGML and (horrors)
DSSSL (that extra "s" should have been enough of a clue).