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   Re: [xml-dev] Patent non-proliferation and disarmament

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From: "Bullard, Claude L (Len)" <clbullar@ingr.com>
> 1.  The web would not have emerged without non-royalty 
> based standards

> This is undecidable.  

I don't think so. The WWW is a vaneer of access on top of the
Internet, and the Internet is basically built on royalty-free 
standards. If any one company had owned this access vaneer,
other competitors would not have adopted it.  

Also, the WWW is different from, say, CDs and the Phillips/Sony
royalty, because that is basically a hardware patent not software.
The WWW is not as much a medium as it is content. 

> 2.  The open source community health is of vital importance
> to the success of the web.   
> This is undecidable.

It depends on what you mean by success.  What if
open source (and free) community health *is* the metric of the
success of the web, or if free access to information is?

As with vaccines so with standards: the amount that
a technology ican be used to make a buck is not a sign of
its successfulness.   

> 3.  "process of standards creation should not be contorted, 
> subverted, and otherwise compromised by the private goals of 
> individuals or companies seeking to incorporate their patented 
> ideas into public standards"
> This is paranoia.

Yes, it is not the patent per se, but whether the patent is effectively
handed over to the community.  But it is not paranoid.  As a 
software developer, I have to waste a deal of time doing 
patent searches to make sure that I am not infringing: Adobe's
latest success in the MacroMedia case is a good example --
it is just plain wrong for the US legal system to grant world
monopoly rights on simple combinations of widgets.  When I
am king of the world, I will revoke all patents which were
not the result of more than three years and $5,000,000 research.

> 4.  "unsustainable patents are increasing at an alarming rate, 
> swelling the patent portfolios of large companies dedicated to 
> stockpiling their arsenals of (they say) "defensive patents." 
> The first part of this is only decidable if the criteria for 
> "unsustainable" can be enumerated.

How about all software patents, for a start!

> The second part is paranoia.  There is not proof that any 
> companies large or small or individual are "dedicated" to 
> stockpiling patents.   Observation of behaviors does not 
> constitute proof of intent.

Well, I used to work for a US company who decided, at one stage,
not to persue its manufacturing and sales arms to concentrate
on getting revenue from its patents.  And wasn't it Amazon who
had a strategy of grabbing as many patents as it could.  I have
been involved in some patent discussions recently, and the lawyers
definitely told me that one reason to get patents was to ward off
attack from other patents: if your product infringes their patent, 
then probably their product will infringe yours, so you can cross-license
out of it.

> 4.  "implementation of open standards should not be impeded by 
> negative incentives arising from the legal requirement..."
> The law is the law.

The US law is not the rest of the world's law.  But the size of
the US market forces consideration of US law everywhere.

> o RAND will stifle innovation and reduce choice 
> This is paranoia.

Surely you cannot be serious, Len.  When there is only one
known way to move forward, and that way is impeded,
innovation must be stifled.  Only when there are multiple
ways to move forward, then impediments to the primary
route will trigger innovation on other fronts. 

Rick Jelliffe



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