W3C Process Document
W3C uses the term "liaison" to refer to coordination of activities with a
variety of organizations, through a number of mechanisms ranging from very
informal (e.g., an individual from another organization participates in a W3C
Working Group, or just follows its work) to mutual membership, to even more
formal agreements. Note: W3C is one party in a liaison; in the
remainder of this document, the term "Partner" refers to the other party.
The goals of formal liaison process described in this section are to:
- Enable both organizations to pursue related goals (e.g., technical
specifications) to their mutual benefit.
- Facilitate development of complementary technologies, possibly resolving
- Document the commitment from both organizations, in resources and
principle, to pursuing work in a particular area.
- Coordinate communication about the focus of the liaison.
- Allow synchronization of schedules and calendars.
- Ensure that technical progress can be made in a manner consistent with
W3C's intellectual property rights policy.
- Prevent market fragmentation.
- Provide for specific benefits (such as mutual membership) enumerated in the
This process is minimally constraining since, in practice, liaisons take a
variety of forms (e.g., the liaison involves W3C process more than the
Partner's process or vice-versa). The process consists of:
- Liaison creation and modification
- Liaison charters
- Liaison status reports
Liaisons -- formal or informal -- MUST be
coordinated by the Team due to requirements for public communication, IPR
policies, confidentiality agreements, and mutual membership agreements.
The W3C Director MAY negotiate and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
with another organization. However, before doing so, the Team MUST announce the intention to sign to the Advisory
Committee, who MAY appeal. A Memorandum of Understanding MUST be made available to Members and SHOULD be made public after approval.
A list of W3C liaisons with
other organizations [PUB28] is
available on the Web.
The Director creates, modifies, or extends a formal liaison by announcement
to the Advisory Committee. The announcement MUST
include a reference to the liaison charter.
Advisory Committee representatives MAY appeal the creation, modification, or
extension of a liaison.
Liaisons are not meant to substitute for W3C membership. The formal liaison
process is meant to improve coordination with similar (membership)
organizations. If an organization wishes to participate in W3C work, that
organization SHOULD join W3C.
W3C's decision to pursue a liaison with a Partner is ultimately based on the
perceived costs and benefits to W3C. Important considerations include:
- Will both organizations make available to each other all information
pertinent to the joint effort?
- Will both organizations ensure public distribution of intermediate and
final versions of technical reports?
- Will both organizations respect the confidentiality of sensitive
information? Willingness by both parties to protect such information fosters
trust and may allow Working Groups to get work done more quickly. However,
those involved should not lose sight of the ultimate goal of open and public
- Will both organizations disclose any IPR claims related to the joint
effort? What happens when the Partner does not share the same IPR policy as
W3C? When it's more strict or more loose? Is disclosure the minimum? How will
the organization address patents as part of filling out the charter?
- Will both organizations coordinate all public statements and press releases
related to the joint effort?
- Will both organizations encourage peer review at appropriate/documented
milestones so as to ensure compatibility? Agree to negotiate changes deemed
necessary by reviewers? Agree to solicit and respond to comments made during
periods of public review?
- Will both organizations reach decisions by consensus and document
objections when consensus is not possible?
- Will Members of both organizations commit to representing the parent
organizations in work related to the joint effort?
- What copyright and distribution policies will govern deliverables? Will the
publications be available according to the W3C Document
License [PUB18]? Will software be
available according to the W3C Software
Notice and License [PUB19]?
Reasons not to pursue a liaison with another organization include:
- Does the other organization have selective or arbitrary membership policies
that serve only to benefit pre-existing or dominant members?
Each formal liaison has a public charter that MUST include all of the following information.
- The organizations
- The names and contact information for both organizations.
- The background of the relationship between W3C and the Partner. Why is this
liaison being proposed now? What is the market within the area of the proposal?
What organizations, products, or standards currently exists in the market? Is
the market mature/growing/developing a niche? What competing technologies
exist? Are there competing organizations?
- The degree of involvement by one organization in the work of the other.
Will involvement be symmetric?
- Whether mutual membership is part of this liaison. Do mutual memberships
include waiving dues? Will both organizations be permitted to send any number
of participants to work in various groups (subject to the limits of each
- Relation to other consortia and similar organizations. Do the Partner and
W3C share a similar relationship with other consortia, organizations, or
Members? Will both organizations try to encourage cross membership?
- The goals of the liaison
- The goals of the liaison (e.g., convergence of technologies, exchange of
information, development of new architecture).
- The scope of the liaison (e.g., topics covered or not covered).
- The technologies that will be the object of this work, and dependencies on
- Deliverables expected as a result of the liaison.
- Requirements from the Partner on the deliverables (e.g., IPR requirements
or expectations for the adoption of a particular specification).
- Process and policies
- The process that will govern the joint effort (e.g., will a document be
part of the W3C Recommendation Track process?).
- Any dispute resolution processes.
- The IPR policy will be associated with the deliverables. For example, will
the copyright on deliverables resulting from the joint effort be held jointly
by both organizations?
- The W3C groups that will be involved in the liaison (e.g., within W3C,
which Working Group or Coordination Group).
- The W3C Team Contact for the liaison and time allocated to tracking the
- The primary contact for the liaison organization and any other important
- The duration of liaison, or interval until next mutual review of the
liaison agreement (e.g. 3 years).
- Foreseen milestones.
- The proposed date of the first meeting.
At least at each Advisory Committee meeting, the Team MUST present an update of each formal liaison that
describes the state of the liaison, goals achieved or not, and deliverables
produced or not. The update SHOULD highlight
significant changes, successes, and failures since the previous update. The
Team SHOULD also keep the Advisory Board regularly informed (e.g., once
per quarter) of important events or changes regarding liaisons.