[Draft] IPR Policies for New Standards Proposal

Status of this Document

This is the IPR portion of the the new standards task force proposal. This proposal provides a funtional description of an "IPR Progression" so that Community Group participants have IPR protection, and facilitates the transition to a future Working Group. This is not a draft legal agreement; more work will be required to turn this proposal into actual legal agreements.

Although the Editor has discussed this document within the PSIG, this is not a PSIG document, nor has the PSIG expressed any endorsement of it.

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The policy involves two stages of commitments over a Community Group specification designed to satisfy a set of policy goals. The commitments are:

General notes on commitments:

Contributor Agreement up Front

All participants must disclose organizations with whom they have significant employement relationships (e.g., this will be recorded in their W3C accounts).

Upon joining a group, a participant signs a Contributor Agreement (CA). The individual makes a commitment on behalf of the individual's employer(s). Via the agreement, the individual asserts to having the legal authority to make the contributor commitments, and that their employer is aware of and approves their participation.

Participants may also apply (via a distinct option in the UI) with only an "individual commitment." These requests are subject to approval by the WC staff. These requests are likely to be granted in only special circumstances, such as the individual is currently unemployed, or the employer has no rights to the individual's works.

The signatory of this agreement makes the following commitments:


Other Commitments on Joining

Full Specification Commitment at End

At any time (and necessarily before a specification may move to the standards track), the Community Group participants may publish a stable draft and call for all Community Group participant employers to make the next level of voluntary commitment. The commitment has two aspects, one pertaining to the specification produced by the Community Group, and one pertaining to subsequent Recommendations based on the Community Group specification. The two parts are:

  1. an irrevocable non-assert regarding any claims owned by the Participant that are essential to implementing the Community Group specification;
  2. a W3C Royalty-Free License for the same claims, extended to implementations of a W3C Recommendation provided that the claims are essential to implementing the Recommendation (as they were for the Community Group Specification).

The decision to move a specification to the standards track will be influenced by, but not automatically determined by, the extent of organizational non-asserts. The W3C staff (as a whole) is responsible for informing Community Group participants when a specification has been taken up in a Working Group, and for tracking all commitments.

Notes on Disclosure Obligations

Notes on the Exclusion of Claims from the Royalty-Free Licensing Commitment

The exclusion process defined in the W3C Patent Policy will be handled as follows when a portion of a Community Group Specification is incorporated into a Recommendation track document:

Notes on Promoting Reuse of Text in the Standards Process

This policy intentionally seeks to promote the reuse of Community Group specifications in future Recommendations. In exchange for providing a forum for innovation, the W3C community asks to be able to reuse community-developed specifications in a way that is also fair to Community Group Participants. Note that:

This part of the policy resembles the licensing commitments for W3C Members Submissions with some differences:

Note: In a PSIG discussion there was another suggestion that patent grants extend to Recommendation track work only if all required portions of the Community Group specification remain intact in the Recommendation Track document. The goal is to only extend the patent grants if the derivative work remains interoperable with the Community Group specification. The Editor has not incorporated this suggestion because exclusion is possible during the usual Recommendation Track process. While it is indeed desirable to preserve interoperability of those features that are incorporated into a Recommendation Track document, the Editor has been unable to define feature-level compatibility in any robust manner.


Q. What are the goals of this policy?

Q. Is there an existing license to implement this policy?

The OWF agreements provide a useful starting point. Some modifications are likely for the Recommendation-track grants; more evaluation is required.

Q. Won't this approach allow people to work on a spec only to have their effort undermined if a Participant makes no end commitment?

Yes. That will be true, by definition, of any approach that allows people to make lightweight commitments when work is immature, and to solidify them (or not) later. Thus, we cannot prevent it and also satisfy the community's demand for lightweight commitments up front. Transparency will help the community manage situations where organizations choose not to make commitments.

Note also that commitments over contributions are irrevocable (after 60 days), adding some additional protection.

Q. Did you consider other progression approaches?

Yes. The following ideas were not taken up:

Notes and todos

Ian Jacobs, working with David Rudin and Helene Workman.

Questions? Write Ian Jacobs at w3t-comm@w3.org.

Last modified: $Date: 2010/12/06 23:55:50 $ by $Author: ijacobs $.