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>From: Patrick Durusau [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
>Turner's article turns on conflating the notion of patent rights with
>creating a an infrastructure via a standards organization that depends
>upon those patents. In other words, there very well may not be a market
>for the "invention" covered by the patent unless it does become a basic
>part of the information infrastructure.
I read that another way. There may be organizations or individuals
who hold valuable patents on technologies which the users or developers
of the infrastructure want to incorporate. These organizations or
individuals will be unwilling to do that without RAND. They will
simply sell to the market or license it under terms less reasonable
and non-discriminatory. If the W3C attempts to compel them not
to do that, they will leave the W3C.
>Patent holders are certainly
>free to not participate in standards organizations but without a
>"standard," they may well find only limited markets for products based
>on their standards. Having a relatively uniform infrastructure is what
>makes particular products (or patents) successful.
They can sell these anyway. See MPEG.
>You may read Turner as saying that the alleged (since they are unnamed
>or spoken of only in vaguest terms) holders of patents may look for
>other venues to create a uniform market for their patents, but I doubt
>that sort of overreaching will be viewed very favorably in most
They may already have that market. It is different than the issue
confronting organizations that dominate content markets in
transition to XML. They have to want to open up their schemas.
Here no patent law protects them and copyrights are seldom
asserted. However, surrendering schemas with broad coverage
enables new competitors to emerge quickly. Again, the case
for the innovator vs a basic application is quite different.
>The patent holder faces the choice of actually
>producing a useful product (the intent of patent law, at least
>originally) or in some way making that patent a part of the
>infrastructure so that others need it.
Actually, no. They may have purchased a patent or created
patentable technology for research in a domain in which they
do not produce the product and others have incorporated it
into their infrastructure. In any case, the patent holds if
they have the wherewithall to pursue it. It isn't a game
for small companies, I assure you.
>Assuming that standards
>organizations become less and less sympathetic, then I suppose patent
>holders can either sulk and hold onto their patents or they can actually
>try to compete in the marketplace.
Or they can litigate. A patent not litigated is worthless in real dollar
terms because the marketplace steals actively. Standards organizations
are a side issue here.
>It would be easier to respond if you could say what those "holes" are.
I did. There is no reason to surrender patent rights and licensing
if it is unprofitable. You claim it will always be profitable or
will create market. I say where that market exists regardless of
who created it, there are other strategies with better ROI. So
it will often come down to willingness.
>And why can't patent holders sell products? I don't recall saying that
>they could not.
Some do. Some hold patents in other areas. Some hold patents in
areas where their competitors forced them out of business in order
to get control of those patents or to negate their profitability.
It is a rough world. That is a real case. See Intergraph vs Intel.
>If the product is that interesting, compelling, why not just sell the
>>No. We may not see a decent binary XML because MPEG
>>encumbered the best idea first. Perfectly legal. Good for
>>all concerned; no, but we can't make them care.
>Think so? Hmmm, I just let that pass as a religious opinion and won't
Show me a case where force makes someone a good citizen rather than
merely an obedient one. You're the Biblical literature guy.
>All I was suggesting was taking care of a goose that is already laying
>golden eggs. The one Turner is suggests exists is somewhere off in the
>bushes, if there at all. If that were not the case, Turner and others
>would be citing real numbers to make their case.
Microsoft and Turner have repeatedly contributed to that nest. They
are good citizens. They are simply saying that having no RAND option
is not a good way to induce others to cooperate given a situation in
which the greatest good for the greatest number is contrary to their
good. So the future of the W3C will be best if they are careful
not to undertake specifications in areas where the dominant stakeholders
hold patents they are unwilling to surrender. The W3C could end up
with wanker specifications while the market created by it is served
by proprietary technologies. So be it.