XPointer and the '729 patent
On 6 December 2000, Sun Microsystems published on the XML Linking comments list a proposed set of terms and conditions under which Sun has agreed to grant certain rights to a patent it owns to developers implementing XPointer 1.0, U.S. Patent No. 5,659,729 (the "'729 Patent"). We have received some comments on the circumstances surrounding the patent and the terms, and we wanted to take this opportunity to respond. Sun has never made any claim that an implementation of XPointer infringed on the '729 Patent. In fact, Sun's then-AC representative to W3C was not even aware of the patent until W3C notified him in November 1997 of its existence. About a year later, W3C requested that Sun take action with regard to the '729 Patent to make it available to developers implementing XPointer. We presume W3C felt that it would be preferable for Sun to grant rights in advance to avoid potential issues at a later date. Our goal in granting rights to the '729 Patent has been to ensure that everyone has the ability to implement XPointer without being subject to burdensome legal restrictions or royalty payments. We have been working, and continue to work, with W3C in order to develop terms and conditions that eliminate encumbrances for all developers. We believe that Sun's approach to the issue avoids costly and time- consuming legal wrangling that would certainly be involved in determining whether the '729 Patent is valid and/or infringed. At the same time, it provides assurance to the development community that Sun will not assert the '729 Patent against implementations of XPointer under the terms. After reviewing and considering the comments that have been submitted since the time of the posting, we offer to do the following: 1 Request a reexamination of the '729 Patent at our own expense. As part of the reexamination, we request that you provide us with any prior art of which you are aware so that Sun may submit any relevant prior art to the U.S. Patent Office. 2 Consider specific requests for changes to the terms. In order to accommodate the concerns of the development community, we are willing to consider alternative terms. We have already received some comments along these lines, and additional comments are welcome. Information on BOTH prior art and suggested changes to the terms should be sent to Sun by 7 MARCH 2001 at mailto:729-patent@e.... We are hopeful that this explanation addresses the concerns voiced to date, and look forward to seeing your additional comments. Eve Maler Sun representative to W3C's Advisory Committee  http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-xml-linking- comments/2000OctDec/0092.html  http://www.w3.org/TR/xptr -- Eve Maler +1 781 442 3190 Sun Microsystems XML Technology Center eve.maler @ east.sun.com
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