[JDEV] Re: New Patent Policy at W3C

Jay Curry rusty at curry.net
Tue Oct 2 17:57:09 CDT 2001

"Ashvil" <ashvil at i3connect.net> wrote:
>What this means is that the W3C can create a recommendation that becomes a 
defato web standard and any implementation will/may have to pay royalties. 
>For example, SVG implementers would/could have to pay royalties. I rather have no 
SVG 'Web Standard' then have one where I need IP lawyers to negotiate royalties. If 
companies want to create open web standards then they should NOT be allowed use 
the patent system. It either an open web or a closed web owned by companies that can 
afford to pay big bucks to Intellectual Property lawyers. 
>I wonder what the other Jabber developers think of this proposal from the W3C.  
>Should the Jabber specifications and any derived work be placed in a 'Patent Free 
Zone' OR do folks believe that Patents are the foundation of our IP (Intellectual Property) 

As I understand Patent Law, and I am not a lawyer, you can pattent an idea that is new 
and applies to a useful device. New is interpreted as not already in general use.

Amazon.com patented the one-click buying device, which in essence is the ability of the 
buisness to speed up the purchase process for repeat purchases, by storing that 
informaiton in some sort of location (secure or otherwises, not specified) that a program 
looks to pre-fill out your order form. To me this is no different from calling up Sears, 
giving them your customer number, and saying that you would like ot order a new pair of 
shoes, specifying a part number, and put it on my sears card already on record. The 
operator asks would you like that next day, etc, and ships it. Sears already has where 
you live, etc. so you don't have to provide an address unless you have moved, or need it 
shipped to your sister's in preparation for her wedding.

After getting their patent approved, Amazon started applying it, requesting royalties 
from B&N, Borders, etc. If B&N could show that Amazon's patent was simply a re-
application of an existing process, in use for many years, the patent become void.

Unisys, or a company subsequently purchased by Unisys, patented the LZ compression 
process used to compress a variety of files, most notably the GIF file format. For many 
years the pattent was uncontested, and was provided freely to Compuserve as well as 
developers of products that could create GIF files. A few years ago, Unisys realized 
they were in a bind money wise, and decided to exercise their option to charge a 
royalty for the LZ compression process. 

While I may feel the action is dispicable, the law as I understand it does not restrict how 
long a pattent may exist without charging royalties. It does specify how long a patent is 
good for. As an example of that the RSA pattent expired last September or October, 
moving the control of that process out of the hands of the owners of the pattent (RSA) 
and into the public domain.

WRT Jabber, any party intending to patent a portion of the Jabber specification would 
have to show that the portion that they were pattenting was not already in use, and that 
it was useful. I am not about to contest the latter, however by the very nature of the 
fact that Jabber has been used for over a year would suggest problems with saying 
that the process in question was "new". 

This does not preclude someone writing up a patent request and getting a patent for 
some sort of plug-in to jabber, perhaps a custom jabber robot that interacts with your 
PIM calendar to remind a user to go to a meeting, or that would allow someone to 
schedule a meeting with you by either interacting with your robot, or their own robot 
noting the request to set up a meeting in their callendar and acting on their behalf. They 
could specify methods of approval requesting including sending you a jabber poll (an xml 
form that has an approve, review, or reject button, with an option for a message back 
to the requester requesting further information, etc.). then later on applying that pattent 
to other similar jabber robots, or robots working on other IM platforms.

In theory someone could do that with the conference module, then if they could show 
that their work pre-dated all other conference chat software that is similar they could 
request royalties. Likewise the idea above for interacting with your calendar could 
already be pattented by AOL, Yahoo or MSN as I am aware that some of the features 
are already in the Yahoo Messenger client.



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