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RE: [xml-dev] Cutting special deals for open source developers --noway!
- From: "Bullard, Claude L (Len)" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- To: Jonathan Robie <email@example.com>,"Champion, Mike" <Mike.Champion@SoftwareAG-USA.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 08:53:55 -0500
That is in fact, the climate you do work in. Patents
have been applied for and granted. In general, the
W3C has been specifying technologies that are for the most
part based on work done previously in government groups,
universities etc and some of these are patented. The MIT
suits are an example.
None of this is new or remarkable. Standards
developers have had to be aware of this situation and
for that reason, there is a formal policy for such in
standards bodies. This is normal. It is possible
that your company does have a policy with regards to
patentable concepts and that you are violating them unaware
of the potential consequences. That is something you
may want to look into. The claims of a norm for freely
giving away company assets to engender company profits
is to put it mildly, extraordinary.
Commerce One just laid off almost half of its work force.
Did freely implementable ideas help that to happen or
prevent it? Was it a factor at all? Economists can
argue the case, but a business model that does account
for all of its revenue sources is more likely to be
taken seriously by investors and customers. Web companies
are becoming aware of this fundamental in which a patent
portfolio is part of the equation of investment and return
on investment. For this reason, despite all claims that
some norm exists or is being violated, the W3C patent
policy will move forward and those that need or wish to
work on W3C specifications will do so under the formal
norms set by that policy instead of the informal norms
which they assume exist but in fact may be nothing more
than a chimera produced by unsound investments the consequences
of which are now being realized in quite predictable ways.
This is why special deals for open source developers are
unwise. It suggests that the value of assets can be
applied in ways counter to their intent which is to
exact licensing fees. Fair for all or none.
From: Jonathan Robie [mailto:email@example.com]
I spend a lot of my life working on W3C Working Groups, giving away ideas
that may well be patentable. As long as the standards we are working on are
freely implementable, it is easy for my employer to understand that it is
in our interest to pay me to work full time giving away ideas, because
everyone else on the committees is doing the same thing, so we benefit from
their generosity, and they benefit from ours.
Note: I am not speaking for my current employer, but in general terms.
Now suppose everyone is patenting ideas that are needed to be able to
implement the standards we develop. If I come up with a potentially
patentable idea, how do I explain to my employer that I should make it
publicly available, when everyone else is patenting their ideas instead of
making them available to us for our implementation? In fact, I may need to
have some patented ideas to be able to trade with the other companies so
that I can use all the technology I need to implement a standard we are
working to develop together.
It gets worse, of course. I have to be careful not to communicate anything
that might give away my potentially patentable ideas until I know they are
protected, so I have to keep lots of secrets instead of being open with my
This is certainly not the climate I want to work in while developing