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RE: [xml-dev] Cutting special deals for open source developers --noway!

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.


-----Original Message-----
From: Jonathan Robie [mailto:jonathan.robie@softwareag.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