DRAFT Guidelines for Establishing Partnerships with W3C

This document is deprecated. See instead the formal liaisons process of the W3C Process Document as of June 2003.

This version:
Tim Berners-Lee, <timbl@w3.org>
Ian Jacobs, <ij@w3.org>
Joseph Reagle, <reagle@w3.org>
Last modified:
$Date: 2003/06/19 16:37:18 $


In order to promote architectural consistency between technologies developed within the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and those developed by other organizations writing specifications for information technologies, W3C wishes to institute a process for creating Partnerships with these organizations. This document describes the general goals of Partnerships - harmonization of specifications, open exchange of information, quality, and trust - and proposes additions to the W3C Process Document about the creation of such Partnerships.

Status of this Document

This document is a draft document based on numerous discussions and proposals, including the 1 March 1999 Advisory Board Meeting (Team and AB only), the 2 August 1999 Advisory Board Meeting (Team and AB only), a proposal by Ian Jacobs (Team only), and a proposal by Tim Berners-Lee.


Identification of the Need for a Partnership

From time to time, the W3C Team or Members will perceive the need for a Partnership with a peer organization or standards body. In a number of situations, coordination would benefit both parties, including:

Partnerships are not meant to substitute for W3C Membership; organizations will continue to join W3C to pursue W3C Activities. Partnerships allow similar organizations to pursue related goals (e.g., technical specifications) to their mutual benefit. Partnerships are likely to vary from organization to organization, so the goals and processes described herein are designed to be flexible. They will be refined as W3C learns from experience.

Criteria for Partnership

The W3C is an open organization in that it:

  1. encourages the participation of all organizations and individuals that can contribute substantively to specifications,
  2. focuses on achieving group consensus among peers, and
  3. works to ensure the timely delivery of high quality technical specifications that have undergone public review.

All W3C Recommendations are public and their ultimate success relies upon the voluntary adoption and implementation by that same public: the Web community. In order to collaborate with partners in an environment that fosters openness, consensus, and wide distribution of specifications, W3C requests that potential partners agree to the following general principles for work carried out as part of the partnership.

Public process
The Partner agrees to make public process and membership information. This includes a publicly documented position on its membership and partnership policies that permits widespread participation of all interested parties within its scope of activity. W3C declines to partner with organizations that have selective or arbitrary membership policies that serve only to benefit pre-existing or dominant member organizations.
Decision by consensus
Groups operating within a Partnership agree to reach consensus in order to provide a single solution acceptable to both Partners and the market at large. Where unanimity is not possible, minority opinions are archived.
Specifications widely available and free of charge
A Partner agrees to allow its peers to archive/mirror specifications and also to make them available, with clear attribution of the source, in the event the organization cannot.
Peer review
A Partner agrees to have joint work reviewed by peers at appropriate/documented milestones to ensure compatibility and likewise to review the work of peers. The Partner agrees to negotiate changes deemed necessary by reviewers.
Public review
The Partner agrees to solicit and respond to comments made during periods of public review.
The organization archives all discussion and input to its work.
Reasonable and non-discriminatory IPR
The Partner recognizes W3C's preference that specifications be unencumbered by intellectual property rights claims. Where such claims exist, public disclosures should be made as early as possible. Technology developed through the collaboration must be available to the public under reasonable and non-discriminatory licensing terms.
Promotion of interoperability
The Partner's mission promotes the technical, institutional, or social evolution and interoperability of distributed information systems.

Minimal Terms for a Partnership Agreement

For any partnership, both W3C and the Partner must agree to at least the following for work carried out as part of the Partnership.

In addition, the Partner must agree to at least the following:

How to Create a Partnership

This more formal section proposes the details for initiating, reviewing, and accepting a Partnership and resembles the Process for Creating an Activity described in the W3C Process Document.

In order for a Partnership to take effect, both W3C and the Partner must approve a proposed Partnership Agreement.

Analogous to the creation of a W3C Activity, the Director proposes a Partnership to the Advisory Committee for review, referring by URL to a Partnership Agreement that has been jointly assembled. The proposal must also indicate the review schedule and deadline for ballots. The Advisory Committee will review the proposal (e.g., for one month), after which the Director will decide the outcome of the proposal.

As part of the Partnership review, AC representatives must make known in their ballots whether their organization is also a member of the Partner organization. If so, they must include the name of the individual who represents their organization in the returned ballot. Also, AC representatives should disclose relevant IPR claims according to W3C's IPR policy.

Joint work with the Partner will be carried out in:

The Director will name a W3C Team member as the Partnership Lead for all formal communication between W3C and the Partner.

At least before each regularly scheduled Advisory Committee meeting, the W3C Partnership Lead is responsible for updating a Partnership Statement (like an Activity Statement) that describes the state of the Partnership, goals achieved, deliverables produced, etc.

Partnership Agreement

As both W3C and the Partner must have access to a joining Partnership Agreement, this document must be available on the Web with appropriate access rights. A Partnership Agreement must answer the following questions:


See the following for examples of such relationships: