"PAS" refers to "Publicly Available Specification" and is an ISO/IEC JTC 1 transposition procedure whereby organizations accredited as valid PAS Submitters can send their specifications directly for country voting, to become ISO/IEC standards.
At the end of October 2010, after a 3-month ballot completed by national members of ISO/IEC JTC 1, W3C was approved as a JTC 1 Recognized PAS Submitter for an overall scope defined as "any stable core Web technologies produced by W3C that are also in scope of JTC 1".
There are contexts where having the de-jure standard imprimatur is likely to increase adoption of W3C specifications. For instance, beyond the W3C brand, a larger audience may be familiar with the ISO and IEC brands. Furthermore, there are also contexts where it is mandatory to use ISO/IEC standards or their national transposition by legislation, for instance in some government procurement.
W3C also has experience where lack of coordination among standards bodies results in fragmentation. The PAS process can be seen as a mechanism for better coordination between different standardization cultures, all of which seek global interoperability for ICT technologies, but through different means. This coordination can result in lower entry costs on the Web platform for the community at large.
As other peer organizations have done W3C has therefore decided to apply for JTC 1 PAS Status over the summer 2010 and was granted PAS submitter status subsequently, with 21 yes votes, 13 abstain, and 0 no vote.
Together with our ARO status (allowing ISO specs to reference W3C Recommendations), W3C believes that de jure recognition of W3C specifications will add trust to the entire international standard system, so that end-users benefit from better interoperability.
The scope of our application is "Core Web Technologies", defined in our proposal as "any stable core Web technologies produced by W3C that are also in scope of ISO/IEC JTC 1". That establishes a baseline of what we may submit. For instance, some of Recommedations are tutorials, tests, primers, and those would not belong in the PAS potential set.
A Selection Process for handling future PAS is being developed and reviewed within W3C, the goal being to submit specifications that help avoid market fragmentation, improve deployment and facilitate government procurement, and at the same time are stable and widely accepted.
Our first package PAS on Web Services (SOAP 1.2, MTOM, WS Addr and WS Policy) was sent to ISO on Jan 21th 2011 and approved on July 25th 2011.
The second package, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 was announced as approved on 15 October 2012.
Our third PAS, on MathML 3.0 has been approved beginning of 2015.
Nothing has been decided for 2015 and beyond for now.
W3C Recommendations benefit from Royalty-Free licensing commitments, while JTC 1 has a RAND patent policy. Since RF is a special case of RAND where the only applicable Reasonable fee is zero, we do not foresee any issue here. W3C specifications will continue to be subject to the W3C Patent Policy.
Beyond patents, W3C's PAS submitter application also addresses how we expect to manage copyright, maintenance, dissemination, testing, translations, co-branding, and so on.
There may be ways to make it even easier for a W3C Specification to move to the PAS process. For instance, both W3C and ISO have specific timelines for review as part of their respective processes, often done by overlaping sets of experts, e.g. W3C members being active in their national ISO organization. We may wish to synchronize those reviews (which, under current processes, take place at different times). This sort of optimization might require some changes to the W3C process, but more experience and discussion would be required before any changes are proposed.
On a practical side, W3C already engages in lots of liaisons between ISO committees and W3C Working Groups.