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RE: [xml-dev] Re: W3C ridiculous new policy on patents
- From: "Bullard, Claude L (Len)" <email@example.com>
- To: Jeff Lowery <firstname.lastname@example.org>,Frank Richards <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 12 Oct 2001 13:56:08 -0500
Maybe, but I have not given up on the W3C or its members to
sort out the right thing to do. The W3C does do a reasonable
job and while we have to be very clear where certain lines
of authority and entitlement are drawn, we don't need to
simply walk away.
1. They have to have a policy regarding patents.
2. That policy should discourage requiring patented
technology in any specification or standard.
I won't go so far as some have and say, "NO R EVER"
because that is inflexible. Still, I think most can
agree that royalities on technologies whose implementation
may be required to use the Internet are not good for
*all* parties. There are plenty of alternative organizations
such as OASIS, the organization that sponsors XML-Dev, that
will host and support open efforts. Certainly, one
should go to such as OASIS, but remember, just because
it has a policy doesn't mean one won't stumble into a
patent. It is a PIA to be working on a public list
and have someone send me email that says:
"Be advised that we patented the concept of tagging
human emotions, see http://upchuck.com "
and know that if you look at that page, you may be
bound to its terms. That sort of thing is bad law
and must be changed. If someone wants me to look,
they must give up the right to encumber me by the
fact I looked. This sort of crap is making life
hard for some standards groups (see the problems
of XML, MPEG and X3D). Before I look, send me a
We should make a distinction between standards and
specifications. I believe (yes, a belief) a standard
is written because a standard is in the public's best
interest. The public's best interest is represented
by the governing body of a local public. In this, ISO
is better established for that purpose its members being
national bodies and therefore, its interests are the
interests of the international public.
A specification is written to define or procure
a technology or to encourage technical convergence. This
may be in the public's interest or it may be simply
market representatives asserting an interest. This
is what the commercial consortia can do and do within a
reasonable boundary between public and self interest
without overstepping their authority.
It's a fine boundary, I grant you, but one in which
we can usefully say whose interests are served and
answer Simon's original question. Then it is and
only is a matter of the organization's policy with
regards to issuing specifications that include patented
technology, but given a patent, there is little need
for a specification. There may be for a standard and
yes, standards can include patented technology because
it is possible that IS in the public's best interest.
Otherwise, you wouldn't have an interoperating phone
system over which to send these emails.
From: Jeff Lowery [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
I think you're point's well stated, Len. W3C is not a body in pursuit of the
public interest. So it seems like those whose interests favor free,
unfettered base technologies for the web need seek appeal and refuge