The World Wide Web Consortium is seeking to invalidate a pair of Apple patents so the underlying technologies can be used as part of a royalty-free HTML5 stack.
The W3C's call for prior art is necessary, the organization argues, because it maintains a strict policy of validating Web standards that can be used without paying for royalties. By finding examples of the technology in use before Apple filed the patents, the W3C can render those patents invalid.
The patented technologies are core components to the W3C's Widget Access Request Policy, which specifies how mobile applications can request sensitive material. It is one of a number of specifications that are closely tied to the W3C's next generation standard for Web pages and applications, HTML5.
Apple has submitted application requests to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describing technologies that the W3C working group has folded into this specification: pending patent 20070101146, which covers access control procedures, and approved patent 7,743,336, which covers widget security.
As a member of the W3C, Apple should provide a royalty free license for technologies essential to the standards being developed, observers have noted. Thus far, the company has not done so, however.
"It's an unpleasant situation for the W3C to have to confront one of its members, especially such a large and powerful one, but sometimes this can't be avoided," said intellectual property advocate Florian Mueller, in a blog post on the subject.
Apple did not respond immediately to inquiries for this story.