updated 02:30 am EDT, Sun July 10, 2011
W3C looks for prior art
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) this weekend put out a call for prior art that might invalidate two Apple patents potentially keeping the web from using the concepts as standards. The W3C's Patent Advisory Group is hoping to make Apple either give a royalty-free license for the patents, which cover widget security and safe distribution, or else lose control of the patents so that they can be used royalty-free.
Apple has balked at the prospect of having to give up some control of patents. Both of its claims are generic enough that, without them, it would have less ammunition to defend itself against a patent troll or to sue companies that it believes are copying the technology. The iPhone maker almost immediately created problems with the W3C's development plans as soon as they were unveiled in April 2009.
Normally, Apple has been an advocate of true web standards and is even helping Facebook's Project Spartan, an effort that will bring Facebook games to iOS through HTML5 without the revenue splits or control Apple normally demands. It may be unusually hesitant given ongoing lawsuits against HTC, Motorola, and Samsung, where losing control of patents could be turned against Apple in court.
The W3C can't realistically develop a workaround in the short term. Its policy demands that HTML remain independent and that no adoptee should have to pay royalty fees. To get there, however, has required confronting one of its more important members and risking losing a partner, not just a piece of technology, if Apple gets frustrated with the new actions. [via Florian Mueller]