What's up with Apple, patents, and the W3C?
Friday, October 30, 2009 2:00:00 PM
First of all, Apple had 150 days to file any patent claims. They waited until day 149 to do so:
The Widgets 1.0: Updates Specification had its First Public Working Draft published on 07 October 2008. This triggers a period of 150 days for exclusions, which ran until Friday, 6 March 2009. Apple excluded US Patent Nr. 5,764,992 on Thursday 5 March 2009.
One has to wonder why they waited until the last minute.
They were also anything but cooperative in their communication, or lack thereof, with the PAG. They attended one conference call, and that was it. They never even responded to several attempts by the PAG to contact them about the patent:
Apple attended the first call and recused themselves from any further participation or comment. Several subsequent attempts to get statements about the 992 patent were unfruitful.
So not only did they cause trouble for the Web Applications Working Group in the first place by filing an apparently groundless patent claim, they also revealed their patent claim at the very last minute, and refused to respond to repeated queries from the Patent Advisory Group after the first conference call.
Lastly, this whole process of analyzing the patent claim, gathering all the relevant data, and so on, has probably been quite expensive for other W3C members.
Perhaps there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of this, but why isn't Apple sharing this explanation with the rest of the world? Surely that would be in their best interest if they wish to continue to cooperate with others, and promote open standards.
Apple's actions as of late may be worrying for companies that choose to build their platforms on top of Apple-controlled projects. With no reasonable explanations from Apple, one might think that they are setting up patent minefield to protect their own interests.
But let's hope for more competition in the future based on open standards rather than trench warfare using patent claims.