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After my first post on this 'Interesting Interview: Software Patents Will Destroy Development', I started reading a little more about this issue and came across this editorial called 'Another Fine Patent Mess'. It seems that Microsoft now has a patent for sticking multiple scripts into an XML file and the author was wondering how such a thing could be patentable. I tend to agree and think we have a definite situation here. It also isn't Microsoft's fault as they are forced to play the patent game in order to not lose out because of the situation the US Patent Office has created. All the major vendors are forced to play this game so that they won't be the one on the negative end of the stick (such as the EOLA patent). What is happening is that all the vendors are madly trying to get patents so that they can have the tools in place to stop innovation of occurring in areas where they have an interest. It is a situation where vendors are forced to have the ability to stop the brakes on another companies product only because that company might have the ability to stop them in their own innovations. It is like the vendors are arming themselves up for protection against each other and to me it is only happening because of the patent offices rules and regulations that the patent office has established. The question is then, are code algorithms worth patents or not? Do patents help instill innovation or inhibit innovation? What is the better course of action for the industry as a whole? I think we all know the answers but we just won't simply admit it.

Posted on Friday, February 20, 2004 11:10 AM Microsoft | Back to top

Comments on this post: Software Patents (Again)

# re: Software Patents (Again)
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"they are forced to play the patent game in order to not lose out"

I have to disagree with this statement.

In general, a company can release the spec in a public arena and this will prevent a future patent from holding up. In this specific case, MS could have simply published the schema in a magazine and would have a verified data of copyright on the document.

This specific case is a sad example of the current state of affairs in the U.S. patent arena. If this XML schema can be patented, then ANY XML schema can be patented. There is nothing at all that is special, clever, or innovative about this specific patent, it is simply using XML as it was intended to be used. I think we're lucky that MS didn't patent "a method of using XML to store a person's contact information such as their name, address, and phone number" or something like that, which is really no different from the patent you mention above.
Left by Shannon J Hager on Feb 20, 2004 1:00 PM

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