Re: XDocs, XForms and Standards
Andrew Watt wrote: > Personally, I would find it disappointing if Microsoft bypass XForms as part > of the engine for XDocs (as best I understand XDocs, at present). <snip/> > If you or colleagues could give an indication of what use, if any, XDocs > makes of XForms that would be very useful information. From a standards point > of view it would be a plus point for XDocs if it does leverage XForms. At > least that's my opinion. I have not participated in or kept track of the XForms development and at the moment the press releases about XDocs are so vague that it is difficult to know exactly what it is/will be. Obviously, however, this discussion is taking place becasue it is not difficult to see the conceptual relationship between XForms and XDocs as an xml-based forms technology. To the extent that XDocs uses XForms technology but deviates from the standard, I believe the W3C and/or the participants in the XForms workgroup would have a cause of action against Microsoft for fraud or something related to fraud. It is not acceptable social behavior (which means it is very likely not acceptable behavior in the eyes of the law) to represent to a group of people involvement in a standards process, receive valuable intellectual property in return, and then use that intellectual property for a purpose other than implementing the standard. In short, I believe that unless Microsoft can show that XDocs is an independently created (i.e., not influenced by its participation in the XForms WG), the participants in the XForms workgroup could compel Microsoft to implement the standard or implement nothing at all. This is not to say that Microsoft could be compelled to build XForms technology and distribute it for free in a browser or otherwise. If Microsoft or anyone else implements XForms and wants to charge customers for the software, that is perfectly reasonable. Of course, the law is not black and white -- my informal opinion does not mean that a judge would ultimately associate the well-known rules of fraud with the unknown (to a judge) and murky fact patterns of technical standards development. Further, not many people like to litigate, especially against Microsoft. The practical lesson, therefore, is that anyone who participates in standards development should be very careful about the terms under which they participate and the companies/people with whom they participate. If anyone, including Microsoft, can simply join a workgroup, siphon good ideas and intellectual property, and then roll their own non-standard implementation, then participating in a standards group is simply a good way to give away your ideas, intellectual property and hard work for nothing. I would certainly think twice about participating in a workgroup with a large company such as Microsoft, since, given its resources, it would be quite easy for MS to take the best ideas/IP from the standards groups and implement them faster than anyone else in a non-standard way. In the "browser wars" an HTML table without an end tag would render in IE but would not render in Netscape. So, even though Netscape had the "better" implementation, sloppy HTML would render in IE, making it appear to be the better browser. The issues with XForms/XDocs appear not to be much different. It would be (is) relatively easy to craft proper legal agreements and intellectual property policies to ensure that these issues do not continue to plague the world. Indeed, it is a plague that causes mass confusion and costs a lot of people a lot of time and money. Todd ========================================= Winchel "Todd" Vincent III Attorney and Technical Consultant Project Director, E-CT-Filing Project Georgia State University College of Law US Office: 404.651.4297 US Mobile: 404.822.4668 US Mobile: 859.489.8077 US Voice : 770.216.1633 US Fax : 770.216.1633 US Fax : 425.955.1526 AU Mobile: 011 61 0408 606 272 AU Fax : 011 61 2 9475 0147 Email : winchel@m... Web : http://e-ct-file.gsu.edu/
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