AB/2014-2015 Priorities/w3c work trademark

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Raison d'être

The 2013-2014 AB did some work on this problem, see the wiki

The current W3C Copyright license is presenting the following problems:

  • Restrictiveness has pushed specs outside W3C Some highly productive editors of key web platform specifications have chosen to do their work outside of W3C, due to, among other things, the ability to use more open (liberal) and more standard (not W3C-specific) licenses such as CC0 and OWFa (Web Platform Specs with CC0+OWFa).
  • Blocks some spec implementation in Open Source. Recently W3C specifications are becoming more and more procedural in style (rather than declarative), in many cases providing (pseudo-)code for implementer incorporation. The W3C Copyright license's restrictions prevent incorporation of such code and/or strings (like error messages) into much open source, e.g. licensed with GPL.

Basics of how the project will work

The project will mostly work in public. The project will involve any volunteer (AB, AC, any W3C participant willing to help) Direct (lawyers joining the TF) or indirect (TF members consulting their own attorneys) legal guidance is necessary for success The deliverable will be concrete, plausible suggestions to the AC/Team on what W3C could do to strengthen trademark protection on the names of key W3C specs and a cost/benefit assessment.

Previous proposals for strengthening trademark

Require consistent identification of W3C Recommendations. The simplest change to current W3C trademark practice would be to require consistent identification of W3C Recommendations using the W3C name, e.g., "W3C DOM" rather than just "DOM". To effectively minimize confusion about which flavors of a spec such as DOM benefit from the W3C process and patent commitments, such a minimalist trademark policy would need to be supplemented with a content update of W3C's website to educate people on the distinction between "DOM" and "W3C DOM", as well as general update to W3C's announcements about specs to use the full name of the spec e.g. "W3C DOM" upon first mention in any particular communication.

The task force has gotten different reactions to this proposal, but will continue to seek input within Mozilla and Microsoft to assess whether marketing / communications people would use the W3C "prefix" consistently



Work mode items:

  • strengthen trademark
  • gather proposals

Not doing:

  • mailing list
    • instead - keep iterating on wiki asynchronously


Milestones under consideration:

  • identify proposals to strengthen trademark
  • summarize what we learned, present proposal for how to proceed to AB (possibly AC)
  • gather and assess feedback, evaluating impact on W3C reputation, culture, etc.
  • iterate as necessary

Team members

  • Tantek Çelik
  • Michael Champion
  • Soohong Daniel Park
  • David Singer (volunteered at the September AB F2F)

Open Issues

For discussion at next AB f2f

  • ...

See Also