World Wide Web Consortium Royalty-Free Patent Policy, Working Draft of 14 November 2002

November 18, 2002 14 November 2002

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today published a revised, Last Call Working Draft of its Royalty-Free Patent Policy whose goal is to enable W3C Recommendations to be implemented on a royalty-free basis.

To achieve the goal of producing royalty-free (RF) specifications, all who participate in the development of a W3C Recommendation must agree to license essential claims (that is, patents that block interoperability) on a royalty-free basis.

Policy draft

Press release


The W3C Royalty-Free Patent Policy governs the handling of patents in the process of producing Web standards. The goal of this policy is to assure that Recommendations produced under this policy can be implemented on a royalty-free basis. [...]

Each issue considered in the formulation of this proposed policy has been resolved by the Working Group according to the Process Document without any formal objection, though one participant disagrees with the direction taken by this policy.

As this document has important implications for all Activities at W3C and the entire Web community, we seek feedback both from W3C Member organizations as well as interested members of the public. During the Last Call period, the Patent Policy Working Group plans to discuss harmonization of terms between the Process Document and the Patent Policy.

The public and W3C Members are invited to send comments on this document to the mailing list (public archive).

Comments should be sent during the Last Call review period, which ends on 31 December 2002 [...]

0. Overview

This patent policy describes:

  • licensing goals for W3C Recommendations
  • licensing obligations that Working Group participants will undertake as a condition of Working Group membership, along with means of excluding specific patents from those obligations
  • the definition of a W3C Royalty-Free license
  • disclosure rules for W3C Members
  • an exception handling process for situations in which the Royalty-Free status of a specification comes under question

    All sections of this document are normative unless specifically market non-normative.

    1. Licensing Goals for W3C Recommendations

    In order to promote the widest adoption of Web standards, W3C seeks to issue Recommendations that can be implemented on a Royalty-Free (RF) basis. Under this policy, W3C will not approve a Recommendation if it is aware that Essential Claims exist which are not available on Royalty-Free terms.

    To this end, Working Group charters will include W3C RF licensing requirements that specifications produced by the Working Group will be implementable on an RF basis, to the best ability of the Working Group and the Consortium. [...] /


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