Patents and W3C Recommendations

The W3C Patent Policy


Rigo Wenning

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Geneva, Switzerland
3 March 2006

Rigo Wenning (Staff Counsel - W3C) <>

W3C: Leading the Web to its Full Potential

Founded by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee in 1994, W3C is:

International Web Standards Organization

Truly International …

Developing Standards at W3C

Clear and effective Process, which encourages:

From a Web of Documents ...


Web architecture 1995

… towards a Web: displayed on an ericsson p800

The Web goes Mobile

A consistent Architecture

Dozens of specifications

Partial Web Architecture 2005

The Re-usable Web (its a feature!)

[image: a circle along which are the various phases of 
    communication between authors and readers via the Web

Communication over the Web

Early Web Experience

Web "business model" built upon open, free (explicit or implicit), cool foundation causes rapid expansion

Licensing causes halt

As the Web Grew the issues appeared

Increasing number of patent suits in US over time (bar graph)

US-Patent suits

Increasing level of concern

Confusion, legal actions and delays:

Consequences felt

W3C Patent Policy History

New Patent Policy took 4 years

Patent Policy in a Nutshell

Royalty-Free Licensing Commitment

W3C Royalty-Free Licensing Requirements

  1. available to all
  2. all Essential Claims 'owned or controlled'
  3. field of use limitation
  4. reciprocity
  5. no fees
  1. defensive suspension
  2. no other conditions
  3. implementer may refuse
  4. license for life of Recommendation
  5. Recommendation deprecation


"Disclosure is required when both of the following are true:

  1. an individual in a Member organization receives a disclosure request as described in section 6.3; and
  2. that individual has actual knowledge of a patent which the individual believes contains Essential Claim(s) with respect to the specification for which disclosure is requested."

If RF is declared, no disclosure is required


WG participants may exclude Claims from their RF commitment:

Exception Handling

PAG may conclude that

  1. The initial concern has been resolved, enabling the Working Group to continue.
  2. The Working Group should be instructed to consider designing around the identified claims.
  3. The Team should seek further information and evaluation..
  4. The Working Group should be terminated.
  5. The Recommendation (if it has already been issued) should be rescinded.
  6. Alternative licensing terms should be considered.

Patent Policy Experience



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