April 7th, 2009

Patented Expectations

You know what I find odd...

Red Hat gets  grief over filing a patent that may impact future extentions of the existing AQMP standard specification... but does not touch the existing specification as it stands.

But Apple refuses to license a patent which may impact an existing W3C specification being worked on right now...forcing the W3C to do a formal patent review and potentially amending the affected specification. Under the PAG rules the W3C recommendation maybe rescinded completely or Apple may receive a variance allowing the recommendation to include non-royalty free terms for the patent at issue.  http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Patent-Policy-20040205/

So here is Apple, pissing in the pool they already sort of agreed not to pee in and yet there's far less angst being thrown around. 
I just can't reconcile the difference in responses. If anything what Apple is done is far far worse as it impacts standardization work that has already been done whereas Red Hat's patent reads on extentions to a standard.

Is it somehow more okay for Apple as a producer of mostly proprietary software to acquire software patents than Red Hat as a producer of open software?  Is it somehow more okay for Apple to refuse to cross-license its patents under the royalty free terms required by the W3C policy for the benefit of establishing a standard than it is for Red Hat to have any patents at all?  Are people less afraid of Apple disrupting standards work with submarine patents than they are about Red Hat? If that's true that says something significant about the percieved dominance of Red Hat in the market.