Sun moves to resolve XPointer patent issue
02:12, 18 Feb 2001 UTC | Edd Dumbill

In a message to XML-DEV, Eve Maler of Sun has responded to the criticisms of Sun's approach to a patent (U.S. Patent No. 5,659,729) that may affect XPointer, receiving a warm welcome from the XML community.

Commenting that Sun has "never made any claim that an implementation of XPointer infringed on the '729 Patent", Maler explained that the W3C requested Sun to take action with regards to the patent to make it available to those implementing XPointer. She went on:

Our goal in granting rights to the '729 Patent has been to ensure that everyone has the ability to implement XPointer without being subject to burdensome legal restrictions or royalty payments. We have been working, and continue to work, with W3C in order to develop terms and conditions that eliminate encumbrances for all developers.

However, the granting of those rights proved disturbing to many members of the XML community: specifically, the terms in which those rights were granted. In response to comments received, Sun has decided on making further offers. The first of these is to request a reexamination of their patent at Sun's expense, to see if it does indeed affect XPointer. As part of this Maler requested that members of the XML developer community provide Sun with any prior art of which they may be aware.

The second of Sun's offers is to consider specific requests for changes in the terms of their license for use of the patent. Maler writes:

In order to accommodate the concerns of the development community, we are willing to consider alternative terms. We have already received some comments along these lines, and additional comments are welcome.

Sun requests that responses to either of the points be sent to them by 7 March 2001, to 729-patent@east.sun.com.

The reaction to Sun's response from the members of XML-DEV has been very positive, applauding their openness in handling the matter.

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