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Microsoft Patents XML Word-Processing Documents

 
 
Lawrence D'Oliveiro
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      08-08-2009
<http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-329645.html>:

On the face of it, the patent would appear to cover all usage of XML and
XSDs in word processing document, which would effectively leave all
other modern word processors - and other software that used their
documents - liable to licensing by the company.


 
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victor
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      08-09-2009
vitw wrote:
> On Sat, 08 Aug 2009 12:44:13 +1200, Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:
>
>> <http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-329645.html>:
>>
>> On the face of it, the patent would appear to cover all usage of XML
>> and XSDs in word processing document, which would effectively leave
>> all other modern word processors - and other software that used
>> their documents - liable to licensing by the company.

>
> Would be a stupid company that buckles down to MS's demands and pays a
> license fee. There's too much prior art for the patent to stand up in
> court. For instance, Abiword uses XML extensively and pre-dates the
> patent application by years.
>


A slashdot commenter suggests that you could be misled by the claim that
this thread title makes, so perhaps the sky is not as loosely fixed as
Chicken Lawrence's loose cogs.

"As is all too often the case here on Slashdot, the summary has seized
upon the title of the patent, which has no legal effect whatsoever,
while ignoring the actual patent claims, which are all important.

If one actually reads the claims, one sees that the main new part of the
invention are the 'hint elements' contained in the XML file. The written
description expands upon what hint elements mean: "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."

Basically, the invention here is the inclusion of information that lets
third-party programs better understand what to do with the format. You
can imagine, for example, if HTML included something like this. The del
('strikethrough') tag might be written:

<del hint="draw line 1px horizontal">

That code would allow a program that did not natively understand the tag
to implement a simple version of it. The idea is to allow new features
to be introduced into the format while enabling older versions of the
software to use them without updating their code. The necessary code
comes with the file.

Now, whether that's still new and nonobvious, I don't know, but it's a
significantly more accurate summary of the invention than "Microsoft
Patents XML Word Processing Documents.""
 
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Lawrence D'Oliveiro
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      08-10-2009
In message <4a7f4fa8$(E-Mail Removed)>, vitw wrote:

> Would be a stupid company that buckles down to MS's demands and pays a
> license fee. There's too much prior art for the patent to stand up in
> court.


Nevertheless, getting to court is an extremely expensive and long-drawn-out
process, which is why companies usually prefer to pay up than fight. There
was even the risk that an injunction could bring your business to a halt
while the case was decided, though thankfully that risk seems to have eased
a bit since the MercExchange case.
 
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Lawrence D'Oliveiro
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      08-12-2009
In message <h5ihot$r8m$(E-Mail Removed)>, Lawrence D'Oliveiro wrote:

> <http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-329645.html>:
>
> On the face of it, the patent would appear to cover all usage of XML
> and XSDs in word processing document, which would effectively leave
> all other modern word processors - and other software that used their
> documents - liable to licensing by the company.


He who lives by the sword ...
<http://computerworld.co.nz/news.nsf/tech/AD6A850774B23C36CC2576100023DE76>.
 
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