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Re: [xml-dev] WWW /= W3C: Has W3C mission changed?


> ...The
> XPointer situation illustrates that and how it can be taken
> completely out of their hands using a submarine patent, even
> one that in the face of prior art, is left standing given
> the lack of will or resources to overturn it.  Such patents
> may have favorable terms offered, but a patent can be reassigned,
> sold, etc. and the new owner not bound by these terms.

That is incorrect for several reasons.

First, "submarine" patents have _significantly_ diminished strength. An IPR
holder has an active responsability to enforce its IPR. Failure to inform
and enforce means that while you may hold a patent, you loose the future
right to seek damages from infringements of the patent. This is patent 101.
Ask any first year law student.

Second, a license is a license is a license. Neither party can change the
terms of a contract after the fact _unless_ the contract grants such rights
(e.g. "you may freely use this software today, but as of midnight all bets
are off"). Mere selling of IPR does not invalidate any contract made which
licenses the IPR. This is contract 101. Ask any first year law student.

The language which concerns me _most_ is the loosey goosey non-requirement
to disclose one's IPR. When an entity signs the contract to become a W3C
member, and such contract contains language requiring the entity to disclose
IPR, failure to do so may become evidence in court when such an entity tries
to sue for patent infringement. As such a strong IPR disclosure policy would
give me some assurance that I might safely implement or use a technology
recommended by the W3C. A loose IPR disclosure policy, on the other hand,
would make me avoid technologies recommended by the W3C.