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The AB has created a Trademark License task force (AB members Tantek Çelik and Michael Champion) to build broad consensus on a combination trademark / license policy to potentially permit more permissive copyright licenses on W3C drafts and specifications.

This page is representative of that project.

Consensus Items

Items on which there is consensus within the task force.

  • Create a public wiki page to track the project (this page AB/trademark-license)
  • Historical note: last time there was a survey on more permissive licensing in HTMLWG there was a lack of consensus, and progress has been made since with the HTML licensing experiment.
  • Using trademark license may provide an alternative to solving the underlying problem that the document license revision tried to address. From AC and AB discussions there may be a broad consensus possible on much of the underlying problem that the document license revision tried to address even if we disagree on using copyright to achieve those goals.
  • It should be clear to the developer community which features in which specs are covered by the broad RF patent commitments that W3C Recommendations carry.
  • There should be some sort of norm strongly encouraging attribution of ideas in derivative works back to their source. This helps maintain a culture of collaboration. The more we can make this simple and easy to do, the better.
  • We need to foster a culture that respects the contributors of specific ideas and texts while recognizing that it they are refined and implemented via an evolutionary process in a larger community. We need to do this within a legally sound but minimally legalistic framework.
  • Several prominent organizations developing and promoting open source software (OSS) use *trademark* policies to define and defend shared norms about how to use and re-use text and code. The Apache Foundation, Mozilla Foundation, Linux Foundation, Creative Commons, and others appear to have established trademark policies and executed them at a reasonable cost.

See also the FAQ for additional points of consensus.

Discussion Items

Items requiring further discussion. We are capturing these in an attempt to have a specific list to go through and hopefully resolve.

  • Public mailing list for trademark license discussions: an open-to-all mailing list on the subject of licensing will likely be counter-productive (per above previous experience).
  • Create a public-ab mailing list: (if it already exists, we can document our intent to use it), where only members of the AB can post to it, but the discussions are publicly archived
    • This would also provide a forum for discussing AB projects which we decide are "open by default" and thus further the "Open AB" effort in general.
    • Over time we can hopefully move more AB project discussion traffic from the private AB list to a public-readable AB list.
  • Differences in copyright license approach: Some members including Microsoft have expressed the view that a copyright license that explicitly enables new use cases for W3C documents *except* creating derivative normative specifications is a good way forward, others including Mozilla have expressed the view that W3C specs should be put in the public domain, e.g. with the CC0 copyright waiver.


  • Work through remaining points of discussion and incrementally increase points of consensus in the process. Document any unresolvable differences.
  • Document publicly known points of agreement and disagreement (being done on AB/trademark-license), and report that to the AC directly. At that point, assuming we can easily iterate based on AC feedback, we may be able to directly scope work for PSIG.
  • Draft a joint message to the AC explaining the rationale for trying to build broad consensus on a combination trademark / license policy that transcends the recent disputes.


Community Group

Q: Should we create a community group to have the license scoping discussion?

A: No. It is likely that a Community Group (CG) would be counterproductive based on historical experience with public email threads in various working groups etc. on document licensing. In addition, joining a CG entails agreeing to a Contributor License Agreement. This is unnecessary overhead for this discussion that does not plausibly create or infringe intellectual property.