Royalty-free patent policy
13:59, 26 Feb 2002 UTC | Simon St.Laurent

The W3C has released a new draft of the Patent Policy Working Draft, now titled "Patent Policy Working Group Royalty-Free Patent Policy".

The change log indicates some major shifts in direction:

  • RAND track dropped
  • P2, P4: Strong preference for RF [Royalty-Free] Recommendations
  • P1: The Patent Policy Working Group believes that the RF license as proposed is compatible with all major Open Source licenses except the GPL. We are still working on GPL-related issues.

The new draft is quite different from its predecessor, focusing more heavily on issues like the obligation of members to comply with the policy.

It still isn't entirely clear how the W3C will deal with patents that arise for non-members, and issue D14, "the role of RAND licensing terms in the W3C Process", is still listed as unresolved. An Exception Handling mechanism for difficult cases is provided.

In a News.com story, Daniel Weitzner, chair of the Patent Policy Working Group, notes that "There is still an open question of what's going to happen in the case that we run into tech that's only available for a fee. That could happen regardless of what our policy is. We still have to sort out what happens in that exceptional case."

There will be at least one more public Last Call Working Draft before the policy moves toward Recommendation status. Public comments may be sent to the www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org mailing list.

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