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Microsoft's US XML Patent Application
Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 11:09 PM EST

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen. Step right up. It's Microsoft's United States Patent Application #20040210818 and it was filed originally in June of 2002 and listed on October 21, 2004. The abstract reads like this:

Word-processing document stored in a single XML file that may be manipulated by applications that understand XML

Abstract

A word processor including a native XML file format is provided. The well formed XML file fully represents the word-processor document, and fully supports 100% of word-processor's rich formatting. There are no feature losses when saving the word-processor documents as XML. A published XSD file defines all the rules behind the word-processor's XML file format. Hints may be provided within the XML associated files providing applications that understand XML a shortcut to understanding some of the features provided by the word-processor. The word-processing document is stored in a single XML file. Additionally, manipulation of word-processing documents may be done on computing devices that do not include the word-processor itself.

[CORRECTION: Note that I wrote 2004 instead of 2002 for the date of filing, a typo that matters, so I am highlighting it clearly so you know the operative date.]

I'm no expert in patents, so I went searching and found this page on what can be patented:

In order for an invention to be patentable it must be new as defined in the patent law, which provides that an invention cannot be patented if: “(a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent,” or “(b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country more than one year prior to the application for patent in the United States . . .”

If the invention has been described in a printed publication anywhere in the world, or if it has been in public use or on sale in this country before the date that the applicant made his/her invention, a patent cannot be obtained. If the invention has been described in a printed publication anywhere, or has been in public use or on sale in this country more than one year before the date on which an application for patent is filed in this country, a patent cannot be obtained. In this connection it is immaterial when the invention was made, or whether the printed publication or public use was by the inventor himself/herself or by someone else. If the inventor describes the invention in a printed publication or uses the invention publicly, or places it on sale, he/she must apply for a patent before one year has gone by, otherwise any right to a pateent will be lost.

You might want to review this also, W3C's XML Inclusions (XInclude) Version 1.0 - W3C Candidate Recommendation 21 February 2002. Here's an earlier document, from 1998, explaining about XML being a subset of SGML:

Abstract

The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a subset of SGML that is completely described in this document. Its goal is to enable generic SGML to be served, received, and processed on the Web in the way that is now possible with HTML. XML has been designed for ease of implementation and for interoperability with both SGML and HTML.

Status of this document

This document has been reviewed by W3C Members and other interested parties and has been endorsed by the Director as a W3C Recommendation. It is a stable document and may be used as reference material or cited as a normative reference from another document. W3C's role in making the Recommendation is to draw attention to the specification and to promote its widespread deployment. This enhances the functionality and interoperability of the Web.

This document specifies a syntax created by subsetting an existing, widely used international text processing standard (Standard Generalized Markup Language, ISO 8879:1986(E) as amended and corrected) for use on the World Wide Web. It is a product of the W3C XML Activity, details of which can be found at http://www.w3.org/XML. A list of current W3C Recommendations and other technical documents can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR.

I notice a Microsoft employee on both of the W3C documents as one of the editors. And here's a list of patents that have been invalidated either during a patent reexamination or by the courts. You may remember this article about Microsoft's intentions. And if anyone is wondering what XML is, here is a good page on it.


  


Microsoft's US XML Patent Application | 238 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Microsoft's US XML Patent Application
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 11:20 PM EST
I've filed a complaint with the Canadian patent office today on same. These
people have to be stopped.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic here
Authored by: TonyW on Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 11:24 PM EST
Please make links clickable.

For example, <a href="http://example.com">click here!</a>

Set the Post Mode "HTML Formatted".

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's US XML Patent Application
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 11:25 PM EST

Word-processing document

It sure seems to me like they're trying to target ALL possible processing that makes use of XML. One way to read what they're doing is with the point of view that they are simply trying to target MS Word. However, just about any editor can be potentially referred to as a "Word-processing" application.

RS

[ Reply to This | # ]

Corrections
Authored by: TonyW on Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 11:26 PM EST
Any errors should be reported here.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Corrections - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:30 AM EST
Nothing Inventive Here; Move Along, Folks.
Authored by: OmniGeek on Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 11:30 PM EST
ARRGGGHHH.

The only innovative activity here is that a standards committee developed XML to
make it easy to do EXACTLY this kind of thing.

This is PRECISELY what the XML standard is supposed to facilitate; it SOOOOO
fails the obviousness test that someone in a patent office needs an
industrial-strength metaphoric paddling with the proverbial ClueBat.

(A literal application of said clue-enhancement technology, while emotionally
satisfying, would be of only short-term benefit and is void where prohibited by
law...)

---
My strength is as the strength of ten men, for I am wired to the eyeballs on
espresso.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How easy is it to become a patent examiner?
Authored by: talexb on Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 11:44 PM EST
This really strikes me as the important question.

If it's just a matter of learning how to wield a rubber stamp, I guess you can
learn in a few minutes. Somehow I think it must be more involved than that, but
I don't really get what's novel about this patent. There's prior art .. I just
don't get it.

A word processor storing documents in XML? Been there, done that. This is novel
how?

Alex

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's US XML Patent Application
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 11:48 PM EST
Definitely one of the lamer patent applications I've seen (and I've seen some
lame ones).

How is it that HTML, then, is not prior art? Just s/XML/HTML/g then you have
something that could have been a patent application on HTML, no? (Except for the
xsd stuff, perhaps, but who cares?)

Hey, there's a patentable idea! Take an existing patent application, and use
search and replace to translate "technical term #1" into
"technical term #2". Presto - the patent applications start
multiplying. And the lawyers get much, much, richer! (And the rest of us become
poorer.)

[ Reply to This | # ]

XML > HTML > DCF (Prior Art?)
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 11:51 PM EST
I'm not an expert on this subject, but I thought that XML could be traced back
to IBM's DCF. Specifically, XML is based on HTML. HTML was inspired by DCF.
What is DCF? It is Document Composition Facility -- essentially, a word
processor based on a mark up language. I used DCF on mainframes in the early
90's, and I am sure that it has been around for a long time before that.

Rob

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's US XML Patent Application
Authored by: Anonymous on Tuesday, March 15 2005 @ 11:53 PM EST
Trivial prior art:

I recall installing and using OpenOffice.org's Flat-XML filter prior to June
2004.

I suppose the way the patent office missed OOo's Flat-XML format was that they
didn't bother to Google "'word processor' xml"!

I'll testify, if you want.

Alexander Beels

[ Reply to This | # ]

It's already accepted for patent in New Zealand
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:08 AM EST
Patent #525484, accepted by the office and now open for objections until the end
of May.

Anyone object?

Read more:

<a
href="http://www.nzherald.co.nz/index.cfm?c_id=5&ObjectID=10115247"
;>Gates up to old tricks over intellectual property rights</a>

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • html error? - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:11 AM EST
Microsoft's US XML Patent Application
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:08 AM EST
That's funny, I was thinking about filing a similar patent myself. I call it the
"Using XML as it was intended" patent.

Storing human-readable data in single XML file that may be manipulated by a
program.

Abstract

A native XML file format is provided. The well formed XML file fully represents
information contained within the file. There are no feature losses when saving
files as XML. A published XSD file defines all the rules behind program's XML
file format. Hints may be provided within the XML associated files providing
applications that understand XML a shortcut to understanding some of the
features provided by the program. The program's document is stored in a single
XML file. Additionally, manipulation of documents may be done on computing
devices that do not include the program itself.

What a small world it is!

[ Reply to This | # ]

The State of Massachusetts might like to learn how MS is endorsing Open Document Standards...?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:09 AM EST
The State of Massachusetts might like to learn how MS is endorsing Open
Document Standards...?

How long ago was it that Microsoft was selling their stance to the state of
Massachusetts as to how Microsoft loved the idea of Open Document Standards...
Yea Right.

Somebody had better call the State of Massachusetts and let them in on
Microsoft's dirty little secrets. Then call the Justice Department and a
certain JUDGE and let them know as well.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's US XML Patent Application
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:10 AM EST
OK everybody, relax. The patent is invalid.

I just read through the patent application the story linked to, and the example
they give isn't valid XML, so clearly this is a bogus claim.

Note the following:

[0087] </w:r>
This tag appears without an opening <w:r> tag.

[0096] </w:p />
I am not an XML guru, but unless I am *really* confused this tag is totally
illegal.

OK, I know these two little mistakes won't be enough to get a court to
invalidate the patent, but either Microsoft doesn't generate valid XML or their
patent lawyers don't know how to use cut and paste.

Alexander Beels
(Corrections? IANAXG)

[ Reply to This | # ]

I could have dozens of patents!
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:15 AM EST
You mean every function I used XML for could be the basis for a patent?

Excellent! I could have *dozens* of patents!

What an incredibly messed up system this is. Totally beyond repair, it needs
fundamental change or the whole industry, including Microsoft, is doomed.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Redundent?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:15 AM EST
So is this now redundent.

[ Reply to This | # ]

How to read a patent
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:33 AM EST
What is being patented are the "Claims."
Everything else is support.
Dennis

[ Reply to This | # ]

Obviousness test
Authored by: radix2 on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:36 AM EST
I have taken the liberty of replacing all XML related stuff to illustrate just
how much this is NOT an invention that is worth protecting.

"Word-processing document stored in a single file that may be manipulated
by applications that understand the format

Abstract

A word processor including a native file format is provided. The well formed
file fully represents the word-processor document, and fully supports 100% of
word-processor's rich formatting. There are no feature losses when saving the
word-processor documents as in this format. A published description of the
format defines all the rules behind the word-processor's file format. Hints may
be provided within the associated files providing applications that understand
files a shortcut to understanding some of the features provided by the
word-processor. The word-processing document is stored in a single file.
Additionally, manipulation of word-processing documents may be done on computing
devices that do not include the word-processor itself."


So what they have gone and done is patent generic word processing document. The
fact that information is represented internally as XML is neither here nor
there. Can someone explain what I'm missing?

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Obviousness test - Authored by: ptb on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 02:08 AM EST
  • Ummm - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 02:19 AM EST
Some technical details
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:42 AM EST

Posted here

[ Reply to This | # ]

SGML is prior art
Authored by: Joe Buck on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:59 AM EST
XML started out as a proper subset of SGML, and SGML has long been used in document preparation and processing (for decades). SGML introduced the concept of a DTD (document type description), which defines all the fields and how they next. XML itself can be expressed as an SGML representation with a DTD.

Given this fact, any competent patent examiner should bounce the patent as soon as this fact is pointed out to him or her. Furthermore, since the patent submitters are fully aware of this fact (the people who worked on XML at Microsoft are intimately aware of SGML and all its dark corners), in an ideal world something bad should happen to them for concealing prior art in a patent application, because a truly honest discussion of the improvement over the prior art would kill the patent.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's US XML Patent Application
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 01:12 AM EST
> The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is descriptively
> identified in the XML 1.0 W3C Recommendation as "an
> extremely simple dialect [or 'subset'] of SGML" ...

SGML was specifically developed in the 70s for writing documents for
publication. This is _exactly_ word processing.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's US XML Patent Application
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 01:31 AM EST
How about this change to Patent Law. It's simple and can be put into place
tomorrow:

A $10m fine (payable within 30 days or $1m a day increase for each day not paid)
for patent applications that are so friggin obvious that Blind Freddy could see
right through it.

Oh, wait. Blind Freddy already works at the patent office. Forgot about that.
Silly me. ;)

[ Reply to This | # ]

and that's the problem with software patents
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 01:52 AM EST
it's not as much in the ppatent itself. It's witht hose that have to research a
patentapplication. That's why it will all go horribly wrong here in Europe. They
will have the same kind of clowns judging these applications. People with zero
knowledge in the field and with no insight into the history of software
development. They won't know about obvious prior art examples, they won't even
know about open office. They've been stuck in MS version of lala land for all
there life so anything MS want's to patent will get through.

Even if you are pro software patent this should frighten you a lot! Wouldn't be
surprised they use an MS application to do a general search for prior art, wich
obviously will return zero results. Must be a valid patent application then....

How long before someone with the power to do something about this will stand up
and say enough is enough. This patent application is a threat to big buisiness
as well. If MS holds such a general xml patent no other company can seriously
develop xml without paying through the nose to MS.

The US patent office has made a fool out of itself and will loose all respect in
the industry. Don't worry....The EU version of this slapstick outfit is soon to
follow.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • You don't get it - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 06:06 AM EST
    • You don't get it - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 07:14 AM EST
Scary Concept
Authored by: Walter Dnes on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 02:00 AM EST
W3C does all the hard work on *COMING UP WITH THE XML STANDARD*. MS files a
patent on *ACTUALLY USING THE XML STANDARD*!?!?!?!?! Anybody got a few thousand
bucks to blow and know some ambulance-chasing lawyers willing to take on a
contingency-fee case? Howsabout filing the following with the US PTO (Patenting
The Obvious)...

Computer program stored in a single Visual.NET file that may be manipulated by
applications that understand Visual.NET

Abstract

Compiler or interpreter including a native Visual.NET file format is provided.
The well formed Visual.NET file fully represents the program source code, and
fully supports 100% of the Visual.NET API. Yada, yada, yada...

[ Reply to This | # ]

Here is where I get vicious about it
Authored by: AllParadox on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 02:29 AM EST
One may not patent a "standard".

XML is both a standard and a proper subset of another standard, SGML.

XML and SGML were designed and established decades ago to be used as specialized
word processing file formats.

This is a naked attempt to patent a standard.

In my humble opinion, this constitutes a fraud on the Patent Office.

Again, in my humble opinion, this deserves a letter to the disciplinary
committee for the Patent Bar.

If the XML standard was not appended to the application as "prior
art", I think the failure to append should stand as a separate violation of
the disciplinary rules.

If a patent examiner has approved this, he is incompetent, and so is his
immediate supervisor, in my opinion. Any patent examiner reviewing software
patents that is unaware of XML as a word processing standard is incapable of
performing substantive application reviews.

The patent examiner and his immediate supervisor also need to have a little face
time with the disciplinary committee.

---
All is paradox: I no longer practice law, so this is just another layman's
opinion. For a Real Legal Opinion, buy one from a licensed Attorney

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's US XML Patent Application
Authored by: jazzyjoe on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 02:45 AM EST
And this from the company that proclaimed themselves forefighters of patent
reform in the US. I guess this shows that:
- As long as the reform isn't happening, Microsoft doesn't mind abusing the
broken system
- Their rethoric about patent reform was just a load of baloney
- Microsoft's right hand doesn't know what it's left hand is doing, or simply
doesn't care.

I can remember the director of the USPTO (whoever that was) telling us that all
these patent applications prove the system works. Should this patent be granted,
I hope someone will ask that kind gentleman what exactly his idea of a working
system is.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • System broken? - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 09:20 AM EST
Microsoft has a patent on Java Generics
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 02:54 AM EST
Authoring and using generic classes in JAVA language code

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's *EU* XML Patent Application
Authored by: stutchbury on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 03:38 AM EST

From a previous comment by overshoot on Groklaw: Microsoft's EU equivalent.

How can we trust opinion from the like of Ms. Bowles, when this obviously has no technical effect? As I have written before, 'compiling' from source to binary (which is, when all the fluff is removed is all this patent application describes) is simply a translation from one language to another, allowing a machine, rather than a himan to read and interact with it.

I think I'll now go and file a UK English to US English translation translator. That should put a stop to this nonsense.

BTW I'm attending the Bristol 'technical effect' patent workshop on Friday - if any one from GL is going, I'll see you there:)

[ Reply to This | # ]

Strategy: file patent on everything, hope that some passes, use patents to stiffle competition
Authored by: phooka.de on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 04:08 AM EST
It doesn't really matter if what they submit for patent is valid, if there's
prior art or what. If someone files 100 bogus patents, chances are some will
pass and chances are that they can still be used to scare the competition away,
at least if you're MS and have the deep pockets to back it.

Softwarepatents are really great, right?

[ Reply to This | # ]

We need a 'Frivolous patenter' status.
Authored by: Dark on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 04:45 AM EST
A simple rule: if three of your patents are invalidated in court, you
immediately lose all your other patents and are barred from acquiring new ones
(whether by trade or directly from the patent office).

To spare current patent holders who may inadvertently have gained frivolous
patents already, an option is provided to immediately relinquish a patent when
challenged on it, which will not count as having it invalidated in court.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • and their lawyers - Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 11:51 AM EST
Chris Huhne
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 05:07 AM EST
maybe we can ask his advisor for her views on a system that allows this kind of
thing?

How does this reconcile with her letter previously published here?

The economic damage that this patent regime is doing is incalculable.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patent offices' responsibility
Authored by: gmelis on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 05:10 AM EST
If a granted patent is found invalid in court, shouldn't the patent office be
responsible for granting the patent in the first place? In this light, shouldn't
it be forced to pay -through litigation maybe- the (a) total patent litigation
costs, (b) give full refund for to the patent owner and (c) be forced to pay for
the damages the whole story has cost to both of the companies?

[ Reply to This | # ]

The Patented Word Processor
Authored by: Kristoffer on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 06:24 AM EST

Ole Tange has put together a list of existing european software patents that an ordinary word processor would infringe. The patents cover things like: tool tips, multi level undo, anti-aliasing, spell checking combined words, justified text using spaces, progess bars etc.

./ Kristoffer
Denmark

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's Strategy
Authored by: jseigh on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 06:55 AM EST
They're not trying to patent XML. XML is just syntax. They're trying to patent a specific set of semantics. That is, what are the MS Word semantics for that particular set of XML tags. If they accomplish that, then even if you did a clean room reverse engineering of MS Word, you'd still be infringing on their patent.

This is the same strategy they'll probably try with their network protocols, notably CIFS, to fend off competition from FOSS projects like Samba.

There is precedence with patents like the LZW compression patent. A lot of very smart people tried to work around that one and couldn't, which is why you didn't see any FOSS versions of GIF encoders until the LZW patents expired (there were two of them but that's another story).

That said, this patent application seems too vague to further that particular goal, so it could be some sort of red herring or straw dog effort.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What is an idea?
Authored by: cricketjeff on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 07:15 AM EST
The idea of using XML as a file format is to allow any amount of data to be
written and read by both computer programmes and people, this is inherent in
what XML is. Therefore, since a patent only protects an original idea using XML
to store any sort of data should not be possible.
If Microsoft have invented a way for an XML file to make the tea, pilot a jumbo
jet to the moon or produce electricity from water, this would be an invention,
but it was clearly forseen by the "inventors" of SGML and XML that
data would be stored, and that the languages would be extensible to more and
more complex types of data. As a man "skilled in the art" I think it
entirely obvious that a saved file should maintain all the features of a
document, so that can't be the invention. I don't understand what could possibly
be patentable here.
The rules are (or should be) simple.
Implementation of an idea is coverable either by copyright or "passing
off". A patent can only protect a non obvious idea. Ventura Publisher about
20 years ago could save perfect copies of Word documents in a format that looked
very like XML there is nothing nonobvious between those files and microsoft's
latest format. Patent offices all around the world have adopted a new standard,
"If I haven't seen it or thought of it it is non-obvious". Since
almost no patent examiners are competant authorities in the fields in which they
work this is clearly a very very weak standard but it appears to be the only one
that counts.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Forget prior art -- think of the problem it solves
Authored by: JeR on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 07:34 AM EST

Apart from the side issue of the (abundant) prior art for this patent, has anyone actually meditated on the problem this idea purports to solve? AFAIK one of the requirements for an idea to be patented is that it has to solve a technical problem in a new way.

AFAICT the idea MS applied to protect doesn't solve the problem of storing XML data in a single XML file without data loss in a new way. In fact MS has a fine track record of making sure new versions of its software incorporate new ways of losing data and "features".

---
non-breaking space

[ Reply to This | # ]

OT here
Authored by: AdamBaker on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 07:49 AM EST
No-one seems to have included an OT thread yet

Please remember to make links clickable

e.g <a href=http://example.com>example</a> and select HTML mode when
posting.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Australian patent incompetance
Authored by: fudisbad on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 07:51 AM EST
Back in 2001, an IP lawyer here in Australia wanted to test the competency of the patent system. He was granted this patent. Let it speak for itself.

Thank goodness we do not have software patents.

---
See my bio for copyright details re: this post.
Darl McBride, file your 10-K and your 10-Q!

[ Reply to This | # ]

Patent process reform...
Authored by: Latesigner on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 08:02 AM EST
It's so nice to see Microsoft's committment to the patent reform they've
championed.
What does the European Commission think is going to happen to their small and
medium sized businesses if they allow software patents?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Microsoft's US XML Patent Application
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 08:08 AM EST
This is kind of like Webster trying to patent known words.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Help fight IP insanity: sign on the WIPO Manifesto
Authored by: rezende on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 08:22 AM EST
To read the Manifesto and add your name to the list of 600+ petitioners, click here

[ Reply to This | # ]

Calling all Americans who care.. start writing your Senators and Reps
Authored by: clark_kent on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 09:29 AM EST
House of Representatives

Senate

A lot of you have something very important to say. Our government won't come to Groklaw. Let's bring Groklaw to the government. It is time we start taking what we write on Groklaw to our government. If you can spend time typing on this website, spend time typing on theirs as well.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Class Action Lawsuit against Patent Office?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 09:49 AM EST
Anyone know what the chances are of getting a class action lawsuit going against
the patent office? Are they immune from liability in the execution of their
function?

If we could find one or more patents that they granted that should not have been
granted (e.g., failed the obviousness test), and that as a result of the
granting of which many Americans can be shown to have suffered injury, then is
it at least possible that a federal judge would allow the case to proceed?

If we can no longer get the COngress to do our will, we should attack directly
the government entity that is screwing up. If they are forced to pay damages
they will be forced to reduce the risk of further damages by tightening the
requirements for patentability.

The other alternative is to apply for our own stupid software patents and then
immediately sue the PTO and/or the Congress for infringement. Refuse to
negotiate a license and demand they be enjoined from infringing behavior. That
would be costly and inconvenient, and might get their attention.

[ Reply to This | # ]

So Microsoft patents OASIS?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 10:10 AM EST
Seems to me the patent describes the purpose and work of the OASIS standards body, in producing a standard XML specification for word processing documents. OpenOffice write is a word processor that for a very long time has used an xml document format, and recently has merged to support the work of OASIS.

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Microsoft's US XML Patent Application
Authored by: pooky on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 11:04 AM EST
I hate to say this, but don't hold your breath for reform at the PTO anytime
soon. Something truly rediculous will have to happen that affects lots of
businesses before Congress will be politically compelled to change the status
quo with software patents.

-pooky

---
If at First You Don't Succeed, Skydiving Isn't for You.

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Response from CIPO challanging patent
Authored by: ShawnX on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 11:14 AM EST
On March 16, 2005 08:38, Carole Choiniere wrote:
Subject: Patent Document Number 2427122 - How to Object/Challange?

Dear Mr. XXX,

In response to your request, you have to send us the documents prooving that
they cannot get their patent. You have to make reference to the patent
application number. You have to send that to:

CIPO, 50
Victoria St, Gatineau, QC, K1A 0C9.

You will receive an acknowledgement but it will be examine only when the
examiner reach this file.

Should you require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact
us.

Mrs. Carole Choiniere
Information Officer
CIPO, Client Service Centre
Canadian Intellectual Property Office, an agency of Industry Canada
50 Victoria Street, Place du Portage, Phase 1
Gatineau, Quebec
K1A 0C9
choiniere.carole at ic dot gc dot ca
Tel: (819) 997-1936
Fax: (819) 953-7620
www.cipo.gc.ca

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Does anyone know these 'inventors?'
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 11:50 AM EST
Inventors: Jones, Brian M.; (Redmond, WA) ; Bishop, Andrew K.; (Redmond, WA) ;
Snyder, Daniel R.; (Bellevue, WA) ; Sawicki, Marcin; (Kirkland, WA) ; Little,
Robert A.; (Redmond, WA) ; Krueger, Anthony D.; (Woodinville, WA)

And is lying about 'inventing' to the patent office perjory?

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Obviousness
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:24 PM EST
Prior art doesn't really matter, since this application was described in the
original intentions for XML and is therefore obvious to anyone.

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Ah, nuts!
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 12:31 PM EST
I was going to patent the BSOD.
Oh, well ...
;/

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Microsoft's US XML Patent Application - Purpose of summary?
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 04:45 PM EST
Why does the summary not indicate what is claimed as an invention?

My comments in italics.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0005] The present invention is directed at providing a word-processing document in a native XML file format that may be understood by an application that understands XML, or to enable another application or service to create a rich document in XML so that the word-processing application can open it as if it was one of its own documents.
This is the purpose of XML documents. Background only, nothing new here.

[0006] According to one aspect of the invention, a word-processor has a native XML file format. The well formed XML file fully represents the word-processor document, and fully supports the word-processor's rich formatting. Accordingly, one of the goals of such a native XML representation is have no feature losses when saving the word-processor documents in XML according to a defined XSD.
It uses XML and XSD for file format and in common with all native formats for applications supports formatting and perserves features. Background only, nothing new here.

[0007] According to another aspect of the invention, there is a published XSD file that defines all the rules behind the word-processor's XML file format. The schema describes the word-processor's XML structure. The schema file mirrors the internal word-processor program while still allowing ease of use. Thus, the schema enables third party services and applications to create XML documents understandable by the word processing application.
XSD is designed to support and mirror XML file formats and allow other programs to manipulate the XML and validate some degree of correctness. Unless there is something 'inventive' about the schema that makes the data more understandable than for normal schemas (in which case this should be highlighted), no indication of originality here.

[0008] According to yet another aspect of the invention, hints are provided within the XML associated files providing applications that understand XML a shortcut to understanding some of the features provided by the word-processor. By using the hints, the applications do not have to know all of the specific details of the internal processing of the word-processor in order to recreate a feature.
Perhaps this what the claim is really about, some specific use of hints. However reading through the entire patent, what comprises such a hint is vague and seems no more than common practice in XML-based formats.

[0009] According to yet another aspect of the invention, the word-processing document is stored in a single XML file. An application will be able to fully recreate the document from this single XML file. This includes all the images and other binary data that may be present in the document. The invention provides for a way to represent all document data in a single XML file.
Single file documents have been around for ever. Binary data (in various hex and other formats for ASCII, Unicode, whatever) for images etc. have been commonplace for a long time for text files and within XML since its inception. Nothing new here.

[0010] According to still yet another aspect of the invention, manipulation of word-processing documents may be done on computing devices that do not include the word-processor itself.
Manipulation of documents by programs other than the creating program without using that program goes back 60 years or so. Background only, nothing new here.

Can anyone enlighten me as to whether a 'summary of an invention' is meant to indicate what is claimed as an invention rather than simply list background material about the context of the claim. And if not (as is plainly the case here) where I am supposed to look for any claimed inventive step(s) in a patent application?

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First heard about this in 1993
Authored by: dmarker on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 05:03 PM EST
And on looking into it, concluded that one intent was that Microsoft wants to
use XML Schema formats to control who can interface to MS Office (i.e. lock out
Open Office by never granting them the right to use MS's Office schema, or by
making each user of Open Office have to pay a fee to be compatible).

In 2002 I saw a demo at MS's offices in HK. It showed how by using MS XL and
some VB programming, an XL spreadsheet could become the client end of a Web
Service by looking just like a govt form & by being able to communicate in
real time back to a web service on a govt server.

The demo I saw showed how a govt dept might allow users to download an XL file
from their website, run it (which requires having Office installed on the
client) fill in fields on a form that was near to identical in layout, color
& function to a govt application (can't recall what it was for).

The interesting part of this demo was the implication that a non-programmer
(well they did need to be able to do some VB in MS XL to create the look &
feel of the form) could program the front-end of a typical business transaction,
test it & deliver it, without the need for traditional technical IT
expertise. In effect, the normal programmers are only needed to create the
back-end web service & devise the XML Schema for the particular web service.
The other aspect of this is that such capability in MS Office could cement MS's
dominance in the Office suite market especially by copyrighting their MS Office
XML Schema formats (the Schemas for storing & saving spreadsheet data) then
using the copyright to make legal threats to block competition who need to be MS
compatible.

It seems to me that there is something quite wrong with the whole software
copyright process if MS can try to copyright an XML Schema which is really just
a data definition template.

Doug Marker

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Microsoft's US XML Patent Application
Authored by: Anonymous on Wednesday, March 16 2005 @ 05:17 PM EST
now this is simple to understand. The key mitigating factor is the "Single
file" property. For documents like those created in desktop publishing
where pictures/graphics/photos are part of the document or the complete document
microsoft is probably using their patented compression to compress the size of
the document. I would say that microsoft is intending to have its way with
Adobe acrobat/PDF and eventually crush Adobe because microsoft wants to
re-invent the wheel...So much for standards compliance. Microsoft! perfect
example of corporate asshole!

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A Radical Thought
Authored by: AH1 on Friday, March 18 2005 @ 03:52 AM EST
Given the success that Groklaw has achieved in dismantling SCO's legal documents
and debunking their FUD, is it possible to apply the same philosophy to software
patents? It is my understanding that patent applications are public record. If
that is true then the challenge is to show that the existing patents, or patent
applications currently exist as “prior art”. If it can be shown that a patent
fails to demonstrate sufficient “innovation” then the patent should be denied.
It is also my understanding that it is the responsibility of the patent holder
to enforce their patents. If this is the case then it should be relatively
straightforward to either prove, or disprove, the concept of innovation and
prior art. I have witnessed the power of “Open Source Law” as it has been
applied through this website. This is a powerful tool. I believe that the same
concept can, and should, be applied to the software patent process. If this can
be done in a proactive manner then any company, or individual, would think twice
befor they bother applying for a patent that fails to meet the minimum patent
criteria if they knew that an army of volunteers were scrutinizing their work.
Furthermore, any company, or individual, who currently holds a “questionable”
patent would be less likely to try and enforce that patent if knew that there
were “a million eyes” looking over their shoulder verify that the patent was
actually legitimate.
I may be overly naive and optimistic but I believe that this approach could have
an impact on the current software patent dilemma in a positive way.

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