The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) currently is considering a policy covering the use of patented software related to W3C Web standards. This policy is in a comment period at this time. Late yesterday, Mozilla project manager Christopher Blizzard filed, via e-mail, comments on behalf of the Mozilla Organization opposing the proposed patent policy. That e-mail is signed by Chris Blizzard and ten other Mozilla staff people.
The controversial proposed RAND (Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory) patent policy could allow fee-based standards.
Here is the conclusion of the Mozilla Organizations comments:
Simply put, we feel that the proposed changes in the way that the W3C operates threaten the organization that we have turned to in the past as the arbiter of standards for the Web. The W3C is a resource for those groups who want to create a standard that will allow multiple implementations to interoperate. With the addition of patents into that mix, the standard's merit is no longer the important factor in determining how that standard is used and who can use it. Instead, the effective power to make that determination moves to the patent holder. This limits the creative ways in which existing standards can be reused in new and interesting implementations. This means that the effective power to determine the direction of the Web and the Internet is in the hands of the patent holders instead of the standards bodies and the implementors of those standards. This fact itself undermines the entire purpose of having a standards body. The alternative is having corporations choosing a direction for the Web for their own benefit at the expense of its users: the general public.
We hope that the W3C Working Group and the Director will take these comments into consideration when considering this Patent Policy Framework. Thank you.
The views expressed herein are the view of the named individuals and do not necessarily represent the view of the employer of any signatory.
The Mozilla Organizations comment is signed by Mitchell Baker, Christopher Blizzard, Frank Hecker, Daniel Nunes, Dan Mosedale, Gervase Markham, Myk Melez, Brendan Eich, Dawn Endico, Asa Dotzler, and Mike Shaver.
You can and should read the entire Mozilla Organization comment.
The full W3C RAND patent and licensing proposal is at W3C Patent Policy Framework: W3C Working Draft 16 August 2001.
Check NewsForge's links for more articles and information about RAND.