W3C | Member Guide

W3C Patent Policy: What's in it for Chairs?

The W3C Patent Policy became operative in February 2004. Although, by design, the W3C Patent Policy relieves Group Participants from most patent distractions so that they may focus on technical work, there are some features of the policy and its implementation that directly impact Chairs and Team Contacts. This document explains how the W3C Patent Policy impacts Groups. It focuses on Chair responsibilities; Team Contact responsibilities are discussed in more detail in other documents.

A Summary of the W3C Patent Policy and other resources listed below are available to Chairs and Team Contacts to help Group participants understand the benefits and obligations associated with the Patent Policy. In particular, some general questions and some tricky questions are discussed in the Patent Policy FAQ.

This document does not discuss Patent Advisory Groups (PAGs).

Status of This Document

This document has been prepared for the 2 September 2004 Chairs meeting. The author anticipates that it will be integrated into the Guide after that meeting. This document is being written after approximately six months of experience implementing the Policy.

This is non-normative supporting material for the 5 February 2004 W3C Patent Policy. That document is the only authoritative statement of the W3C Patent Policy. The sole purpose of this document is to provide a more accessible summary and explanation of the complete policy, aimed at group chairs. Some important details are omitted and many provisions are simplified for the sake of basic understanding.

Why All Group Participants Should Read this Document

Both the W3C Patent Policy and its implementation have been designed to minimize the time that group participants have to spend thinking about and addressing patent issues. Most of the actions required by the Patent Policy or by the W3C Process as affected by the Patent Policy are taken by Advisory Committee Representatives, including:

So what does the average Member representative have to do extra once a group begins to operate under the W3C Patent Policy? Nothing. Invited Experts have to pay more attention as they do not have AC Reps to carry out some of the relevant tasks. Chairs are also expected to pay more attention to issues such as contributions to the Working Group.

Naturally, the more informed Member representatives are about the policy the more they can help their Advisory Committee Representatives fulfill their tasks. So all participants are encouraged to read the policy and the supporting materials listed above and throughout this document.

The remainder of the document discusses some of the events that participants will encounter, including:

Impact Before the Transition to the Policy

Per W3C Patent Policy Transition Procedure, all new Groups will be charted under the W3C Patent Policy. Consequently, this section only addresses existing Groups. Furthermore, it only addresses those Groups that wish to (or must) make the transition to the Patent Policy, not those that wish to (or must) remain under the Current Patent Policy.

As of August 2004, all Chairs and Team Contacts should have organized a discussion within their Groups about making the transition. If you would like to understand better why a Group should make the transition, please review Business Benefits of the W3C Patent Policy.

When a Group decides to make the transition, the Team organizes a vote to switch. During this process, (only) Advisory Committee Representatives of currently participating Members review a draft charter (cf. How to Create a Working Group or Interest Group) and vote whether to switch. If there are no objections, the Comm Team announces the results to the Membership. The Group operates under the W3C Patent Policy as of the Director's Call for Participation. Note that this process is independent of the charter review process. If there are substantive changes to the Charter beyond the switch, the Advisory Committee reviews those changes followed by a Director's Decision and Call for Participation.

After the Call for Participation, everyone who wishes to participate in the Group must formally join (or re-join). The Call for Participation includes instructions for doing so. Individuals may continue to participate in Group meetings for 30 days after the Call for Participation. After this grace period, Chairs should not allow individuals whose organizations were participating but that have not made the commitment to the Patent Policy participate in Group meetings.

How the Transition Impacts Documents on the Rec Track

Per the W3C Patent Policy Transition Procedure, the licensing obligations of the W3C Patent Policy apply to any Working Draft that is expected to become a W3C Recommendation. They do not apply to documents that are already Candidate Recommendations or Proposed Recommendations. Proposed Edited Recommendations derived from a Recommendation not developed under the W3C Patent Policy are governed by the CPP.

Patent Policy Management with IPP

W3C manages Groups under the Patent Policy using IPP (the easily pronounced but uninspired acronym for "Implementation of the Patent Policy").

Advisory Committee Representatives, Team Representatives, and Invited Experts use IPP to to join the Group (i.e., to make the commitments required by the Group charter and the Patent Policy). Note: As of August 2004 the Comm Team is working to simplify the process for invited experts to use IPP; more to follow.

Advisory Committee Representatives use IPP to nominate individuals who will represent each Member in the Group.

All individuals who wish to disclose a patent or exclude a patent claim with respect to a given specification use IPP to do so. Note, however, that patent-holding Participants do not have disclosure obligations for those patents.

All individuals who hold a patent and wish to provide additional licensing information use IPP to do so.

The feature of IPP most relevant to the daily life of a Group is the summary page it provides for this Group. This page (which should be linked from the Group home page) provides:

Managing Contributions to a Working Group from non-Participants

This question is addressed by the Patent Policy FAQ.

In development. For policies related to material contributed towards a test suite, please refer to Policies for Contribution of Test Cases to W3C.

How the Policy Affects Interest Groups, Coordination Groups, TAG

Interest Groups whose participation requirements are no more than mailing list subscription are unaffected by the W3C Patent Policy.

Interest Groups whose participation requirements are more than mailing list subscription and all Coordination Group Participants follow the disclosure requirements of the W3C Patent Policy but have no licensing obligations.

W3C is currently evaluating the impact of the W3C Patent Policy on the TAG.

Ian Jacobs, W3C
Created 25 August 2004. Last modified: $Date: 2004/09/15 13:20:23 $