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W3C Chastises Apple On HTML5 Patenting 126

Posted by Soulskill
from the play-nice-with-the-other-children dept.
angry tapir writes "The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) is seeking to invalidate a pair of Apple patents so the underlying technologies can be used as part of a royalty-free HTML5 stack. The patented technologies are core components to the W3C's Widget Access Request Policy, which specifies how mobile applications can request sensitive material. It is one of a number of specifications that are closely tied to the W3C's next generation standard for Web pages and applications, HTML5."
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W3C Chastises Apple On HTML5 Patenting

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  • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @09:39AM (#36748498)

    ...to a Borgified Steve Jobs.

    • by mandark1967 (630856) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @09:42AM (#36748530) Homepage Journal

      Piss Off.

      Signed,

      Steve Jobs

      (sent from my iPhone)

      • The minions are working on a cease and desist letter now. You blaspheme Jobs. You will be punished.
        • LOL LOL

          Signed,

          Bill Gates

          (Sent from my Windows 7 Phone)

          Windows needs your permission to continue

          If you started this action, continue.

          Continue Cancel

    • by myurr (468709)

      Maybe the way to reform patent law is that if a company patents something in a published standard that they use, promote or approve of; then they lose the right to collect royalties for that patent. If only that could be enshrined in law somehow.

      • by AvitarX (172628)

        Sounds to me that you cohuld handle that with licensing, and not need to involve the lawmakers at all.

      • I think they should re introduce the stockades. If a company does this, then the executives must spend 48 hours in stockades on a public street and the company should be made to fund buckets of rotten fruit and veggies for passers buy to throw.
        • by Duradin (1261418)

          I think pillory is what you're looking for. A stockade would defend them from thrown objects or would be a (military) prison camp.

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Maybe the way to reform patent law is that if a company patents something in a published standard that they use, promote or approve of; then they lose the right to collect royalties for that patent. If only that could be enshrined in law somehow.

        That could end up killing all FOSS patents as well. What usually happens is the patents are licensed under RAND terms (and yes, it could include "licensed for free") for that use only.

        What Apple could do here is simply license those patents to everyone using it to i

        • There's the problem that FOSS has painted itself into a corner with GPL 3.0 and patents. If you license code that implements a patented invention under GPL 3.0 you have to give everyone using the source code a license to use the patent. Problem is: You have to give everyone a license to use the patent for any use of the software.

          So if Apple has a patent and allows everyone to use it to implement HTML5 for free, and you write code to implement HTML5 using that patent, that is fine. But if you wanted to li
          • by spitzak (4019)

            This claim is FUD.

            You only have to license *YOUR* patents for GPL 3.0, if you want to redistribute code (you can use the code even if it implements your patented idea, and even modify it to add your patented idea, and this is all fine as long as you don't redistribute the result).

            Other people's patents are exactly the same as GPL 2.2, BSD, the public domain, and every commercial license in existence. There is no way they could not be since they are out of your control and you often don't even know if they e

          • by sjames (1099)

            So, painted in a corner except for the completely obvious doorway to the next room?

          • by lennier (44736)

            If you license code that implements a patented invention under GPL 3.0 you have to give everyone using the source code a license to use the patent. Problem is: You have to give everyone a license to use the patent for any use of the software.

            That's not a problem. That's exactly what the spirit of the GPL intends: the freedom for anyone to use GPL-licenced software for any purpose.

            If you have a problem with software freedom, that's your choice, but don't expect to use GPL-licenced software to deny others the freedom to use that software. That, indeed, you can't deny that freedom using patents in GPL 3 is kinda exactly the whole point.

            tl;dr: Why does American corporate capitalism hate freedom?

          • by exomondo (1725132)

            If you license code that implements a patented invention under GPL 3.0 you have to give everyone using the source code a license to use the patent.

            That isn't specific to the GPLv3, it's the same with the ASL.

        • by HiThere (15173)

          If it killed software patents, that would be no loss. Software patents are inherently evil. The only possible good use for them is to defend against other patents, and even when used for that purpose the continually tend to corrupt.

          Trade secrets are reasonable, copyrights are reasonable, but patents are evil. Even copyrights extend for FAR too long. 15 years should be the absolute maximum. And FOSS or not doesn't even enter into this. It's an orthogonal consideration.

          • by Jaxoreth (208176)

            Trade secrets are reasonable, copyrights are reasonable, but patents are evil. Even copyrights extend for FAR too long. 15 years should be the absolute maximum.

            640 weeks should be enough for anyone.

      • Why is it we need software patents again?

    • Were there rival Borg collectives?

      I don't have all the details of this particular story, but on the surface it does sound like a dick move by Apple. The question though is what does Apple risk in licensing freely these patents?

      • by Blob Pet (86206)

        Think of Apple as the rebel Borg and Steve Jobs as Hugh.

        • I think Steve Jobs, at least in his current role, is probably more like Lore when he led the confused Borg.
        • Think of Apple as the rebel Borg and Steve Jobs as Hugh.

          Nah, Apple hasn't been a "rebel" in any sense of the word, not for a long, long time. They're no better than the IBM of old, which would do anything to suppress competition and squeeze more revenue out of its customers. On the Evil scale, Apple is pretty close to the bottom.

          Personally, I think of Apple as being the Borg Collective, with Jobs being (ahem!) the Borg Queen.

          Not that there's anything wrong with that.

      • I do remember an episode of Voyager where some Borg re-asserted their individualism and started a revolution. However they were quickly wiped out by the collective by the end of the episode. look for the same thing to happen here. :P
    • I would prefer a rotten apple (with a single bite out of it) and green worm boring in and out.

    • Patent trolls need to be lined up and shot for holding back progress, so disapointed to see what apple has become, and for that matter what google is becoming. Resistance is futile.
    • Agreed. Gates is just a rich old retired guy now. Kids have no idea who he is now. Might want to queue up a Zuckerborg icon while we're at it.
      • Agreed. Gates is just a rich old retired guy now. Kids have no idea who he is now. Might want to queue up a Zuckerborg icon while we're at it.

        Look buddy, there are a bunch of us old guys still here (We're not dead yet, get it?). As should be obvious from most of the postings here, our connection to reality is tenuous at best. By taking away those old familiar icons you would be depriving us of one of the few elements of stability in our lives. That's not a nice thing to do to your elders.

        "Nurse! Oh nurse! Is it time for my medication yet?"

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Look buddy, there are a bunch of us old guys still here (We're not dead yet, get it?). As should be obvious from most of the postings here, our connection to reality is tenuous at best. By taking away those old familiar icons you would be depriving us of one of the few elements of stability in our lives. That's not a nice thing to do to your elders.

          *phbtbtbttt* Us 'old guys' have long since learned to turn off those icons because we remember the days of 300 baud modems and line editors and think the screen

        • First it's our medicare... then it's our Borg icons!

        • by KlomDark (6370) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @12:39PM (#36751594) Homepage Journal

          Look at the 752### telling the 847### that he thinks he's old.

          How quaint... ;)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by erroneus (253617)

      The Borgification was selected because of Microsoft's "embrace and extend" manner. The Borg start out with natural humanoids and then implant things into them. Apple does not do this exactly. Apple just seeks to limit and control everything it touches. So if anything I would rather see a "King-Midas-ification" for Apple as everything they make is high priced, highly sought after and ultimately very limited in how it can be used.

    • The borgified Bill Gates was on the cover of BoardWatch magazine in 1996 [vanwensveen.nl]. It's not a Slashdot original.
    • Microsoft is now a parasite not a predator when it comes to linux and android. The most successful parasites
      are the ones the host barely notices($5 per phone...grumble,grumble now here leave me alone). Apple on the other
      hand is trying to use its patents to exterminate its competitors.

      • by Lanteran (1883836)
        Apple as species 8472 would be appropriate in this regard- but I think very few people would get the reference. The borg are an iconic part of star trek and few enough people get that. (if you don't know who species 8472 is, here's the memory alpha link. [memory-alpha.org] They're a Chuck Norris-like race that started destroying entire borg planets after the borg attempted to assimilate them.)
      • by sjames (1099)

        Perhaps Jobs depicted as Davros would be better. They can't seem to stand the thought that anything other than Apple even exists and they seem to be obsessed with their customers obeying them.

        Then there are the iDaleks...

    • You know, I created this name 11 years ago when MS was the bad boy and the borg icon was made. These days I am thinking my dream of Apple taking over has become a nightmare. Before I even read these comments I was going to say the same thing. It seems before MS IBM was evil. It comes to show what true colors each company is when they are given power. Google is the next monopoly and they are the least evil. All companies become less evil when they lose power. .... With the exception of Oracle

  • Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by houstonbofh (602064) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @09:40AM (#36748502)
    About time one of the bodies stood up to a member trying to turn it into a money tap. Should have started with rambus.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      1) expunge the part of specs
      2) expunge any further part of specs suggested by Apple.

      "Your patented technologies are not welcome here. Go make your own World Wide Web."

    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @09:46AM (#36748572) Homepage

      About time one of the bodies stood up to a member trying to turn it into a money tap. Should have started with rambus.

      Agreed, I think part of actually sitting on these committees and the like should be a "no submarine patent" clause, and a rule that says that since this stuff is meant to be open, it it inherently something which can't be patented.

      Sitting in on the development of a standard and then patenting those components is dirty pool. Same, likewise, is the old MS trick of helping to develop the spec and then releasing something which is 'mostly' like the spec so you can have it be proprietary.

      Sadly, in an age where patents are used to fight your competitors, actual open standards don't seem to be something companies are interested in fostering.

      • by jo_ham (604554)

        So you think Nokia played dirty pool when developing GSM and the technologies around it?

        I guess the way the patent system exists now, if you don't patent it and try to be the "good guy" then some douche comes in from a patent troll company and sues you for "infringing their valuable IP" by doing such things as sorting songs in a user-customisable list.

        There's no indication of what Apple wants to do with these patents - they could be defensive, they could be offensive, they could simply be a way to keep pate

        • by Bengie (1121981)

          Knowing Apple, they're gonna patent troll with them. I've been seeing a lot of Apple in the news over the past few years, because they're trolling.

          I say patent it and donate to some OpenSource group. I'm sure there's one that will manage the patent.

      • since this stuff is meant to be open, it it inherently something which can't be patented.

        In most cases when the term "open standard" is used, it only means that anyone can participate in making it—not that it must be provided free of charge, and not that anyone can freely implement it.

        Unfortunately.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Wrong way around, an open standard is one that anybody can use. As a result of that it has to be free otherwise it prevents parties that give away their software from participating. The openness of the process to create it is not at all involved.

      • by BZ (40346)

        > Sitting in on the development of a standard and then
        > patenting those components is dirty pool.

        You may be interested in reading http://lists.xiph.org/pipermail/theora/2010-April/003769.html [xiph.org] in this context...

        But in general, what Apple is presumably doing here is making use of http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Patent-Policy-20040205/#sec-exclusion-with [w3.org]

      • Re:Good! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @02:17PM (#36752874)

        Agreed, I think part of actually sitting on these committees and the like should be a "no submarine patent" clause, and a rule that says that since this stuff is meant to be open, it it inherently something which can't be patented.

        That was actually the case with JEDEC. Part of their contract for membership was that members would file no patents (submarine or otherwise) on the memory specifications being discussed, and any patents already in process would be disclosed to the other members. The Courts actually found RAMBUS in violation of this part of the contract. However, since RAMBUS' violation was of a private contract between private party, and not a violation of U.S. law, any punishment had to originate in the contract. And the membership contract didn't specify any penalties for a member filing a submarine patent. Basically even though RAMBUS violated the intent and spirit of membership to screw over the other members, the only recourse available to JEDEC was to kick RAMBUS out of JEDEC.

        So it's not enough merely to have these clauses. You must also list specific and brutal punishments for anyone violating them.

  • After sitting with their hands under their butts for soo long, W3C doesn't really deserve much of anything.

  • Taking a quick scan over the Widget Access Request Policy, it sounds a lot like the android app permissions, or for that matter the old java applet security model.

    Quite how Apple could patent something like that in the first place eludes me.

    There should be some sort of (harsh) penalty for filing an invalid patent to stop companies just filing for every little thing.

    • by Ant P. (974313)

      It sounds more like an excuse for another stupid W3C marketing acronym to me. Sorry, I need to go and SOAP my OWL now.

      • by grcumb (781340)

        It sounds more like an excuse for another stupid W3C marketing acronym to me. Sorry, I need to go and SOAP my OWL now.

        That doesn't sound very RESTful....

  • Meh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @09:50AM (#36748616)
    Reading the article, the W3C believes that there is enough prior art to invalidate the patents. The patents seem very broad to me. There is the chance that Apple will provide them royalty free to the consortium as it may be a defense patent. I however didn't read any "chastising" but I suggest you not read Florian's blog. It's filled with his usual dribble of near total speculation and very little basis in reality.
    • by arth1 (260657)

      Oh, this is Florian? Enough said - then I'll skip to another submission.

      • by idontgno (624372)

        Since Florian is omnipresent in any issue about software patents, I guess you're conceding the field to him.

        A sane approach would be to consider all aspects of the issue at hand, perhaps avoiding Mueller's input if it bothers you enough. Hell, you should at least read his rantings, but if you lack the guts or intellect to do that without panicking or raging out, you can be excused from that burden.

        • If you didn't read correctly above, I did read his rantings. As a courtesy to everyone else here I summarized them so they don't have to do so. If it bothers you so much that some is nice enough to do so that you attack them, sod off, as the English would say.
    • >> .. as it may be a defense patent.

      So??

  • by bhunachchicken (834243) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @09:56AM (#36748666) Homepage

    ... of the wicked king Gate, who tormented his peoples by raping and pilaging the standards. For he believed that from his throne, only he could command what people who read and see, and how they should do it.

    "Help us!" cried the people. "Will someone please do away with this madman and bring us technology that we can love and a man whom we can follow and trust!"

    And lo, did a man step up, his man Jobs, his name noble and his deeds promising to be just. Gathering an army of Pods, he made for Gate's castle, unseating him and casting him from the realm.

    His peoples set up shop, The Apple Store, and all was good for many years. The people prospered, adoring his fine gifts of Pods and Phones and TVs and Books.

    Peace had come to the kingdom of Net...

    ... or so it seemed. For Jobs grew comfortable in his position, feeling that it was his right and his only to remain here. Turning to his closest servants his said to them: "We must keep the unworthy from this place! In order to keep Net free and clean, we must destroy the Flash!"

    "Gordon?" came the reply.

    "All of them," Jobs said, as he stood on his balcony. He then grinned, turning to face the seas of W3C, the Free Lands. "Tonight, the true battle begins... and nothing can save them. Not Google, nor their Androids." He patted at the papers in his cloak, the Patents of Power; the ancient documents that would mean he could never be defeated...

    The Moral of the Story: Power Corrupts :)

    • by Lifyre (960576)

      That was nicely done. I would say I see a future in Holywood for you but there was way too much plot in there for a movie...

    • by Raenex (947668)

      And lo, did a man step up, his man Jobs, his name noble and his deeds promising to be just.

      Nice story, except that Jobs has never been this noble character you make him out to be.

  • No... never!

    • Corporations being pricks ... Never.

      Apple is just a very visible prick when it comes to IT. Wish it weren't the case, but that is how it is.

  • This is going to get real interesting, W3C has always been about fair use in my opinion. I suspect this move is to "protect" something in the IPhone (check the air quotes lol) but hampering a nacent non-prorietary technology is not good for them or the community. Better for Apple to create "framework" that enhances HTML 5 as part of their sdk.
  • It's nice to see someone take a stand for a change. I doubt it'll accomplish much, but it's a start...
  • How about this. We make a national standards body, drawn from all the existing ones (or just promote ANSI or something). Make it partially government - it gets some funding, but doesn't answer to the executives or legislators. And, most important, give it the ability to "purchase" patents necessary for the standards. Classify it as eminent domain, so you don't even have the issue of companies demanding billions for their patents - they just get a flat rate in the range of $10,000 per patent.

    Bam. Problem sol

    • Yeah, that would never be abused...
    • Some patents cost a lot more than $10K of R&D to develop. Some require ten minutes of thought directed at a problem. A fixed price means that my strategy would be to flood any area with an upcoming standard with obvious patents. For each one, they could either take me to court (and win, but not recover costs, and I'd defend myself, by just talking nonsense a bit until I lost) or fork over the $10K.
    • Or how about web developers do their jobs properly and not implement non-open standards? Seems like Apple wants to go the way of IE, and we all know how that turned out. I say let them do as they wish.
  • Can we please throw away the broken patent system, and just force company heads to duel at high noon when two companies have an argument?
    • Can we please throw away the broken patent system, and just force company heads to duel at high noon when two companies have an argument?

      Nah, wouldn't last long enough to be entertaining. Take an empty industrial complex somewhere (we have plenty of those), fill it full of hi-def cameras, and turn these guys loose in there. No guns: they'll have to make do with whatever they find handy. Whoever wins gets the patents (and the broadcast rights.)

      My guess is there'd be a lot fewer patent lawsuits.

      • ...I like this idea.
        Though, can we make "teams", with some prisoners in each to help empty our jails and to secretly make sure both sides lose?
  • by wjsteele (255130) on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @10:41AM (#36749256)
    W3C isn't at all saying that they are trying to invalide the patents in question. What they are asking for is prior art that they might be able to use to develop the new stack on top of, so that they can avoid any infringement of the related patents. And I quote, "Such information could suggest ways to define a specification that can achieve the working group's goals without implementers infringing on the disclosed patent." And further, "By making this call, neither the WARP PAG nor the W3C make nor imply any comment whatsoever on the relevance or validity of Apple's claims."

    Bill
  • by backslashdot (95548) * on Wednesday July 13, 2011 @11:28AM (#36750176)

    So Apple is just protecting itself from seeing the HTML spec and patenting it themselves.

    There is a new law in the pipeline that will allow patents to be granted to companies even if someone else came up with the idea first. They have to sign something saying they independently developed the idea without seeing the prior work. That means the patent system is changing from First to Invent to "First Inventor to File" .. to make that law sound constitutional, they have redefined inventor to mean anyone who comes up with something independently. Obviously such a law is heavily in favor of companies with money. So, for example if you invent something .. but don't file a patent for it.. even if you describe your invention in detail on the internet .. a company can file a patent afterwards on the exact same invention as long as there is "reasonable grounds" to believe that the company didn't see your posting on the internet. Note, this obviously won't work both ways because 1) companies alway file patents immediately 2) with their top lawyers companies can prove their invention was well known. It will also allow companies to file patents on things written in books that weren't already patented. It's all to make life easier for the patent examiner .. no more bothering with checking prior art or googling a patent filing to see if someone else had the idea first .. now they just check the patent database then do a quick Lexis search of printed published media issue the patent! No more googling -- which is where a lot of new ideas exist.

    The law is going to be a dream law for patent trolls.

    Just google First Inventor to File for more on this topic. It's probably too late to do anything about it though.

    If the new law was in place in 2006 .. Apple could have patented the idea of making a touchscreen smartphone with a screen larger than 2.5" inches. The reason Apple couldn't patent it was because the idea of large touchscreen phones were posted on the internet and in gadget blogs (including slashdot) by people who wanted them well before Apple served their need. But if this new law was in place, all Apple would have had to do is to claim they never saw the postings and file a patent on it.

    To "streamline" the patent granting process, Congress has redefined "inventor" to mean any person who independently comes up with an invention. So a person can claim they independently came up with an invention .. therefore under the law someone who tries to patent an idea that's in the HTML spec is eligible for a patent because the law states that any "inventor" (as redefined) who is first to file is able to patent it. This makes it easier and cheaper for them to grant patents without having to do time consuming and costly prior art searches.

    The law is called the America Invents Act and it has already passed Senate and House and is in reconciliation. Google it.

    • It's all to make life easier for the patent examiner .. no more bothering with checking prior art or googling a patent filing to see if someone else had the idea first .. now they just check the patent database then do a quick Lexis search of printed published media issue the patent!

      Uh, those are prior art.

      No, you're right that this makes life easier for the Examiner in that they don't have to resolve 35 USC 102(g) interferences between two independent inventors, but it doesn't do away with the requirements of 35 USC 102 and 35 USC 103 that the invention be new and nonobvious. There are still prior art searches, and America is not moving to a registration only system.

      There are other issues with the AIA, and you raise several - like the bias towards large companies - but this isn't on

      • It does do away with the requirement that the invention be new. You can legally obtain a patent if you were the second person to come up with an invention.

        • It does do away with the requirement that the invention be new. You can legally obtain a patent if you were the second person to come up with an invention.

          No, it does not. It changes the definition of "new" to be "new to the general public, not including other applicants." You can legally obtain a patent if you were the second person to come up with an invention, provided the first person didn't publish a paper, commercially sell the invention, go on a lecture tour about the invention, etc. That's it. You still can't patent something that's been done for years.

          And honestly, the requirement has always worked that way. If I invent something but keep it secret

    • by ljw1004 (764174)

      You've completely misunderstood how "first-to-file" works.

      If you describe your invention in detail on the internet, then this counts as published prior art. No one can patent it. Even if a company never saw your post on the internet, and they are first to file -- well, the prior art means that they won't get the patent.

      However, if you kept your invention completely secret, and another company invented the same thing a year later and filed for it, then they'd be granted their patent. That's because there was

  • These patents are NOT related to HTML5. These are related to the Widget specifications in the WebApps working group. The HTML5 work does not make use of this specification (though W3C widgets do use HTML5). Apple has not and there is no indication that they have any interest in doing anything that will impede the work of HTML5.

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