WWW standardisation mined by patents
Several standardistation proposals of the World Wide Web Consortium W3C have hit patent mines, and the W3C has been struggling to define policies for dealing with thepatent danger. A group of large patent owners has tried to push the W3C to accept uniform-fee-only (UFO, also euphemistically called RAND = reasonable and non-discriminatory) standards, i.e. standards that can be used by any software vendor as long as the software is under a license which facilitates fee collection, thereby excluding opensource software and shareware. After massive protests in late 2001 the W3C abstained from this policy, but it is frequently coming back in other clothing, partly because without satisfying patent owners the W3C is finding it difficult to come up with any viable standard proposals at all for some application areas.
- W3C to allow royalty-burdened standards
- The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has in a discussion paper explained the difficulties which it is encountering in an environment where basic calculation tasks are being patented. In order to motivate patent owners to cooperate, W3C proposes to allow "less basic" standards to be usable only against payment of "reasonable and non-discriminatory" of royalties to a consortium of patentees. This has sparked controversy, particularly because the burden could be unjustifiably onerous and completely exclude free/opensource software.
- RDF: Webstandard durch Grundlagenpatent bedroht
- In 1997, with priority date 1994, an obscure canadian software company received a european patent on a basic information processing method, namely the idea of describing information by hierarchies of binary relations. In 1999 a communication protocol called Ressource Description Framework (RDF) was adopted as a web standard. In 2001, when some software applications gradually became available, a license collecting company started enforcing the patent, as a first step threatening 50 companies with infringement litigation.
english version 2004/08/16 by Hartmut PILCH