W3C thinking about royalties again

by Simon St. Laurent

Related link: http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-patentpolicy-comment/2002Jul/0000.html

The W3C's Susan Lesch reports that "three participants and the Chair" circulated "a new RAND exception proposal".

The W3C Patent Policy Working Group had appeared to lean in the direction of Royalty Free more recently, after an explosion of controversy (1 2 3 4)

The proposal suggests that the W3C countenance royalty-bearing RAND work:

When non-royalty-free IPR is discovered in a W3C Working Group, a Patent Advisory Group (PAG) might have a number of possible outcomes. The proposal suggests that the Working Group's specification could be split in two. "Core" work to be licensed royalty-free would be produced as a W3C Recommendation. "Extensions" that may require royalties could be done at W3C or by another standards organization.

It is, of course, important to note that "The group did not appear to universally accept the proposal." A followup message from Dan Kegel suggests that:

You are aware you're treading on very dangerous ground here, I'm sure.
Care to identify the three participants who are eager to
introduce extensions that require royalty payments?

The proposed policy seems custom-made for some dark visions of the Web Services Interoperability Organization (WS-I.org) and its leading members, though it also proposes to let the W3C itself embrace patents and the royalties they bring, so long as they aren't "core".

Business as usual?