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Careful when you call them idiots. They may be
It isn't an error and you know it isn't. If you
were holding valuable patents, you'd have to think
long and hard about giving them up if they were
contributing as much or more to the bottom line
as your software sales. That can be the case.
The questions are:
1. Is the W3C attempting to spec a domain for
software that already exists in a market?
2. Do the existing vendors in that market hold
patents over the technology the W3C wants to
create specifications for?
3. Does the W3C policy require a vendor to
relent licensing (agree to RF) on any domain
for which the W3C has agreed to create a
specification as a condition of membership?
The market may already be there and the W3C
may be inappropriately appropriating it. If
the market does not exist, and the value
of the patent is low, there is little incentive
to litigate it or not provide it on RF terms.
If the market is established and the value
of the patent is high, conditions which force
the holder to give up the licensing revenues
to maintain membership will be unacceptable.
1. The value created by the Internet is undeniable.
Membership in the W3C or contributing to W3C specifications
are not conditions for profiting in the Internet market.
2. Open source is just another business model.
Pitting the open source community against Microsoft
or IBM is a red herring. The question is one
of the market value of the patent, not the free
use of it by competitors or in specifications.
The business model is not an either/or situation.
The problem is the RF policy is. You can't blame
lawyers for a problem the W3C brought on itself
when it shifted its role from specifications for
technology to standards. The patents have value
or don't. It's that simple.
From: Tim Bray [mailto:email@example.com]
Bullard, Claude L (Len) wrote:
> 3. The main point is that an RF-only policy, no exceptions,
> simply makes the choice easy. Don't submit innovative technology
> because it will be more profitable and easier to use the patent
> laws. So where it might have been "the right thing to do",
> now it is a business loss to do because licensing is
> more profitable than paying out to create specifications for
> competitors to build to.
This is the fundamental error. Certain W3C member representatives are
prone to saying "RF is fundamentally against our Business model! We
made $big-number last year on our patent portfolio!" These idiots fail
to ask themselves how much they made last year because the Web exists
and has become a superb application vehicle in some large part on the
basis of free software.
The notion that you can make money building and delivering web
applications, based on the Web's unbiquity and interoperability, is
well-proven in practice.
The notion that you can make money by setting up a tollbooth on a piece
of Web infrastructure (and thereby driving out all open-source/free
offerings as a side-effect) is a radical proposal without even an
I think the W3C is trying to do the sensible thing that sensible
business people would go for if they weren't under the influence of
shitforbrains attorneys with "Intellectual Property is Sacred" tatooed
across the inside of their foreheads.
As for Microsoft's motives? Gosh, a RAND licensing policy on *anything*
guarantees that there will be no free-software competition. Doh. -Tim