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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.


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