[whatwg] Patent Policy and Process

Jim Ley jim at jibbering.com
Sun Jun 13 18:16:38 PDT 2004

"Ian Hickson" <ian at hixie.ch>
> On Mon, 14 Jun 2004, Jim Ley wrote:
> > Is there any time limit for such response?
> No, but it is pretty obvious when someone is being ignored.

It doesn't actually matter though if someone is being ignored right?

> The charter doesn't say the editor has the casting vote. Quite the
> opposite. It just says the editor has to be the one to get the others to
> agree on something.

> To be honest the copyright is just because I originally wrote Web Forms 2
> before WHATWG and the issue hasn't been reexamined because frankly, who
> cares.

Well I think it's clear I do, I'm interested in seeing a good spec - if you
recall I voted for this to be done within the W3 at the web-apps meeting
[1], since you've decided to do it outside I'm concerned that it's done
properly. I'd've been happy with an ATOM like wiki etc. approach which
knocked something together to then take to the IETF, but you choose a
Working Group, with a Charter, and clear IP claims of Opera on the resulting
specification.   Opera are a responsible company, their vision is to not get
involved in proprietary standards, which is why I feel the WHATWG is a
strange approach for them to get involved in, it is proprietary standard,
much more proprietrary than the W3 (since anyone can become a member, it's
not even that expensive)

> > Please put WHATWG on the level of a legal entity
> Highly unlikely to happen. The whole point of this work is to prepare a
> proposal for a real standards organisation, not to become one.

Right, great, what's the roadmap, which standards organisation, I know ECMA
doesn't take proposals from 7 random blokes, does the ISO?  if not which
other standards organisation would you take it, are you sure that it's worth
delivering finely detailed specs simply to re-enter a different standards
body process requirements, why not simply do it all within the standards
body, as a proposal it's clearly sufficient to start work, after all we are
doing.  Why not do it now within the auspicies of such an organisation.

> Because specs that are designed by committee largely suck. In fact of all
> the specs I've been involved with, I can pretty much state categorically
> that all those that were written by a single editor taking input from
> others but being basically autonomous are better than all those where the
> design was driven by committees and votes.

I didn't suggest design by commitee, I suggested final arbitration by vote,
that's very different. You've already got  a design by committee it's in the
charter, there's currently 7 members, that's a commitee, you're not guiding
the process, you're simply editing the a document that is the result of the
committee - if I've got that wrong, and you are actually writing it with
only input from others, then I don't think that's really what the charter
says, could it be clarified?

> Nothing is final unless it's in an official standard (which WHATWG has no
> plans of ever doing).

Right, so interopable implementations have little place within WHATWG, since
you're not writing a standard people can actually conform to, you're simply
preparing something to later take to be standardised - there's a big
difference.  Thanks for making this clear.

What's the motivation for us individuals from outside the WHATWG devoting
resources now, rather than when the actual standard is being specificied?

> That rather depends on the precise sections in question. In practice, the
> kinds of tests I write involve the interactions of anything that is in any
> way interrelated, so sections 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 would all have to
> interoperate together for section 5.6.1 to be considered interoperable.

So it's not actually per section or subsection as it says in the charter,
but simply on interopable parts that link together, "per feature" as is
commonly used in the W3 process - this is much clearer language.

> I don't have anything to say on the patent situation, except that
> obviously it's in all our interests if this work is not patent encumbered.
> Unfortunately all patent issues have to deal with lawyers and lawyers
> aren't known for their swift actions.

Have you or any of the other 6 members of the WG consulted any? surely it's
not difficult unless any of the 7 of you actually have patents to state you
don't and won't seek to obtain any without giving a RF licence to anyone?
Of course with this, it'd probably be best to get this into a proper
standards body who can employ such lawyers quickly, I don't want to find out
in 3 years that Apple actually hold a patent on web-forms (to take an
example), and have wasted all the good work.

> It is much more likely to take a long time to get interoperability simply
> due to bugs than it is due to technicalities in version numbering.

I agree entirely, which is why I thought the constraints on what could be
counted was surprising, as that can only delay (or encourage someone to
raise something to Release status before it's genuinely ready, something
Mozilla Org's been very good not to do up to now.

> If pressed, I imagine the answer will be "no" (we won't solicit such
> approval). In fact I wouldn't expect the members to get in any way
> involved with any third party archiving.

Right, so there's no way we can safely archive the responses without
individually soliciting approval.  That's unfortunate.



[1] Well in the first vote I was a 1/2, in the 2nd I opposed as there
weren't any DOM features proposed.

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