Call for Comments: W3C Royalty-Free Patent Policy Last Call Working Draft

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has published Last Call Working Draft of its Royalty-Free Patent Policy whose goal is to enable W3C Recommendations to be implemented on a royalty-free basis. If this policy is adopted, all who participate in the development of a W3C Recommendation must agree to license essential patent claims (that is, patents that block interoperability) on a royalty-free basis.

W3C's final patent policy will be determined by the feedback we receive from W3C Members and the Web community-at-large. It is critical that W3C hear from those in the Web community who are interested in the final outcome of this policy. Please send comments to <www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org> by 31 December 2002.

Proposed Policy Keeps Web Standards Open

The primary goal of the proposed policy is to enable W3C Recommendations to be implemented on a royalty-free basis. We also seek to encourage disclosure by both W3C Members and others when they are aware of patents - their own or others - that may be essential to the implementation of W3C Recommendations. In simple terms:

Our aim is to solve a specific problem - to remove the threat of blocking patents on key components of Web infrastructure. The Policy doesn't require giving up one's entire patent portfolio; it concerns only those patent claims that are essential to implement a standard that one participates in developing at W3C.

Last Call Draft Makes Commitment to Royalty-Free W3C Results

In previous drafts, the Patent Policy Working Group wrestled with issues regarding both royalty-free and royalty-bearing (RAND) technologies being incorporated into W3C Recommendations. With this draft, the Working Group explicitly proposes the following:

Public Feedback Urgently Needed: Next Steps Include Broad Review, Decisions in 2003

During the 'Last Call' period, W3C is seeking feedback, both positive and negative, about the proposed policy. Comments should be sent to:

<www-patentpolicy-comment@w3.org> [Public Archive]

Comments must be received by 31 December 2002. Following the Last Call period, the Patent Policy Working Group will produce a final draft proposal for the consideration of the W3C Membership and public. This final proposal - called a Proposed Recommendation at W3C - will be through the standard review process undertaken for all W3C technical Recommendations, concluding in decision by the W3C Director, Tim Berners-Lee about the final policy. The Working Group hopes to advance to Proposed Recommendation in February or March 2003, with a final policy to be adopted by May 2003.