W3C finalizes stance on royalty-free Web services specs

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) on Wednesday formally approved its patent policy, which requires that technology used in W3C standards, or "Recommendations," be submitted on a royalty-free basis.

The policy pertains to development of Web-related specifications at W3C, such as Web services specifications. W3C's policy, which had been subject to a final review period since March, seeks to reduce the threat of blocking patents on key components of Web infrastructure, W3C said.

The issue of paying royalties to implement standards has been controversial, with some in the industry believing that requiring payment for implementations of standards could stifle development of Web services technologies.

The policy allows exceptions when certain technology is deemed critical enough to warrant inclusion despite a royalty condition. In such a case, licensing terms must be disclosed and be subject to review by W3C and the public.

W3C's royalty-free licensing requirements are consistent with generally recognized open source licensing terms, W3C said.

The consortium has been responsible for development of Web technologies such as SOAP and XML.

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