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Patent Policy Approved

May 21, 2003

Good news from the W3C today. The proposed Royalty–Free Patent Policy has been approved.

Quote: “The Policy affirms and strengthens the basic business model that has driven innovation on the Web from its inception.” They’ve hit the nail squarely on the head with this one. The spirit of the web is information sharing and openness, and it’s encouraging to see a guiding body like the W3C maintain that philosophy.

Points of interest in Tim Berners–Lee’s official decision

  • The announcement was timed to coincide with the ten year anniversary of CERN’s original, similar decision about the early web
  • Support amongst W3C members of the originally proposed Royalty–Free Patent Policy has been higher than any other recently adopted recommendation.
  • Recognition is made that this policy can be perceived as threatening to some business models, but it’s noted that ultimately this is the right decision for the web, not individual companies.
  • There is, however, a provision made for the possibility of later inclusion of non–Royalty–Free technology. It’s understood that this is only a last resort after all Royalty–Free alternatives are explored.

The last paragraph in Berners–Lee’s decision states that no group involved got exactly what they wanted — be they patent holders or open source developers — which goes to show how political the process of developing this Policy was. In the end a balance had to be struck, and compromises made, but the end result speaks for itself.


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