[whatwg] Patent Policy and Process

Jim Ley jim at jibbering.com
Sun Jun 13 16:41:58 PDT 2004

"Ian Hickson" <ian at hixie.ch>
> To answer your specific questions, the structure is two tier. The active
> tier is this mailing list, the contributors being anyone who sends
> comments on the mailing list, those comments being taken into account by
> the spec's editor (myself, at the moment) with all feedback being
> responded to.

So the editor of a spec. has a requirement to respond to all feedback?  Can
this be specifically mentioned in the charter.  Is there any time limit for
such response? (hmm, that's my outstanding issue on the W3 Process too...)
Is there any process for raising issues that are not responded to, to some
sort of arbritration?

> At the moment I am responding to all feedback
> chronologically and have responded to any comments sent up to last
> Thursday, not inclusive.

Remember I'm not particularly concerned with your own performance, but there
are scheduled to be future specs with future editors, and they may not be as
dilligent as you.

> These members have the final
> say on what goes in the specification, and on when the specification hits
> its various milestones. I personally only have one vote in this group, so
> I'm obviously not all-powerful. :-)

Er, except you (as editor) have the casting vote under the "can't come to
agreement" clause, that's more than a single vote.   Can there be a
requirement that such disagreements between the group be documented
publically in response to any decisions.

> The organisations that were explicitly named at the announcement of this
> group were Opera Software and the Mozilla Foundation. However, WHATWG does
> not operate on the basis of organisations or companies at this time, it
> behaves in terms of individual members.

> According to the charter, all issues raised in this mailing list should be
> addressed. I have been doing this so far.

Is there any process for achieving this? - an issue tracking log etc.

> The copyright status of the specification is that it is copyright Opera
> Software. This is because an Opera employee has been the sole editor of
> the spec and WHATWG cannot legally own any copyrights as it is not a legal
> entity.

You stated above that you were operating as an individual, now you say
you're operating as part of Opera, which is it?  Please put WHATWG on the
level of a legal entity so that it can hold copyrights and get Opera to
assign it over to them, the proprietary nature of the spec.  I currently do
not believe that you're operating as individuals, as you noted this came
directly out of Opera and Mozilla's proposal to the W3 Web-apps workshop.  I
don't particularly see how you can address this lack of good faith in the
charter, perhaps it would be better if the companies involved either
specifically got involved or made statements specifically distancing
themselves from the actions of their employees.

> The specification is open, thus not proprietary.

This is an interesting definition of open - it's proprietary to being more
generous to the members of the WHATWG, but it looks currently to be
proprietary purely to Opera.

> It's just a draft of a proposal that is being developed
> openly in this mailing list based directly on input from anyone who wishes
> to e-mail this list.

So why not give such people a vote in what enters the spec, that would be
truly open, at the moment you could (I know _you_ wouldn't) just go WIBBLE
in response to every issue, and the members could still vote in the complete
opposite direction.

> > for answering implementation issues
> Any issues should be raised on this mailing list, whether design, author,
> or implementation issues, and all will be addressed in the same manner.

So a statement on the mailing list asking to resolve how to implement a
particular feature should be considered final?  Does this need to be from
the editor, or any member of the Working Group?

>> Are features sections or subsection
>> - ie do you require 2 full interopable implementations of every section
> This is fully defined in the charter, which I won't quote here due to its
> length. However, as far as I can tell it does address your wish above.

I'm sorry I don't see at all how it's defined in the charter, let me re-word
it as an example Does Section 5 require 2 interopable implementations or
only subsection 5.6 or only subsection 5.6.1 ?

>> What intellectual property do the organisations have in the various
>> areas, what licensing terms would that IP be made available to others
>> on?
> No announcement regarding patents has yet been made. This is being studied
> by the members at the moment. It's likely that the royalty free version of
> the W3C patent policy will be used wholesale.

You've said above that you're acting as individuals, whilst it's entirely
possible that you hold patents, it's much more likely that your companies
do, the W3C RF patent policy seems wholly inadequate when it's just 7 guys
stating they don't hold patents in the specification.   What's relevant is
if Apple or Opera who are much more likely to actually hold a patent do or
not.  Again as above I don't see how the distinction between individuals and
their companies really works in the organisation.

> > What does "shipping" and "unofficial" mean w.r.t. to implementations -
> > is a beta release of Opera shipping or development,
> Development (that's what "beta" means).

So a FireFox implementation would not (currently) count, this seems rather
harsh, and seems to suggest it will be a very long time before you actually
get 2 releasable implementations.

> > is an extension to IE official or unofficial?
> Official (it's the extension that is the user agent, and if the
> extension's vendor says a certain build is official, then it is official).

Right, I'm not sure I can particularly agree with this, could you make this
clear in the charter, and state exactly how such extensions would need to be
configured - for example a script included on every page would only "work"
if certain other scripts weren't on the page, which would mean it's always
possible to show a valid Web-Forms 2 document that that implementation
failed to render. So such an extension should never be usable for an
implementation in the spec.

> > how long does the WG undertake to provide the archive?
> No guarentee is given. Contributors are encouraged to make their own
> private copies if they require long term availability of the archives.

Individual users do not permission from the copyright holders of the
messages to make copies hence:

> > Will you solicit approval from contributors for other groups to archive
> > the mailing list and specifications to ensure continuation?
> No policy on this matter has been decided at this time.

Can you please decide on this soon.


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