a reasonable fee if someone used the standard in an application. The problem of course comes down to such terms as reasonable and non-discriminatory. A rea- sonable fee could easily bankrupt a smaller company that did lots of SVG, and a non-discriminatory license was essentially unenforceable. SVG (and potentially other already-extant standards) were quietly shifted into the RAND category, and an accelerated response period was instituted to get it into the bylaws as quickly as possible. Fortunately, an alert reader notified the Web community through a number of developer Web sites (most notable Slashdot), and the response was enormous . . . and highly critical of the RAND license. More than 5,000 respondents wrote, including many of the major names in the Web and XML communities. As of January 2002, the W3C rescinded the RAND licenses and converted to royalty-free licenses on SVG, with Adobe giving up its claim to any prior technology that could have been used against other companies or individuals. Why is an obscure legalistic question about patents so important to SVG developers? A RAND license, if it had been allowed to continue, would have essentially meant that any person who created anything using the standard (such as an SVG graphic or an application for editing the same) would have had to pay Adobe a usage feeeven if they werent using any Adobe-developed software. It would have also meant that companies could not use SVG to create applications without the possibility that they would have to pay license fees to Adobe, even if they werent planning on using the Adobe SVG Viewer. The real effect of such an action wouldnt have been the enrichment of Adobes coffers (save perhaps via legal fees). Instead, it would have meant that both people and companies would have simply stopped doing anything with SVG, and the language would have become just one more has-been technology. As it stands now, however, with the RAND issue rendered moot, a number of companies (even small one- or two-person companies) are looking at SVG not just as a way to deploy multimedia presentations but also as the foundation for core technology or as an integral part of new applications. This doesnt mean that people can use the Adobe SVG Viewer as part of their own work; the Adobe SVG Viewer is very much Adobes own implementation of the SVG standard and should by all rights be licensable. However, should you implement your own version of SVG (or license someone elses), you do not have to worry about the possibility, sometime in the future, that all of your work could be invalidated on the basis of a prior claim. Nor do you have to worry that Adobe will change the specification beneath you in an unadvertised fashion so that your work will no longer work with the language itself. In the debate between Flash and SVG, the status of Macromedias Flash is considerably murkier in this regard. Macromedia has openly published the Flash format, which means you could in theory write applications that consume or produce Flash without potential litigation. However, Macromedia still holds all patents to Flash itself and has not submitted the format to any recognized stan- 15 Why SVG?