M.S. Word is illegal because it uses XML!



  • [url]http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32389868/ns/technology_and_science-tech_and_gadgets/[/url]

    Some canadian company called i4i claims to hold a patent on the XML standard, and has successfully sued Microsoft because Word uses XML. Christ, our legal system is so screwed up.

    No doubt Microsoft will appeal, or settle, or just buy out i4i. What if i4i instead sued some small start-up who couldn't fight this? Judges who don't understand technology shouldn't be allowed to rule on cases like this. Not to mention the stupidity of granting software patents.



  •  From the patent:

    A system and method for the separate manipulation of the architecture and
    content of a document, particularly for data representation and
    transformations. The system, for use by computer software developers,
    removes dependency on document encoding technology. A map of metacodes
    found in the document is produced and provided and stored separately from
    the document. The map indicates the location and addresses of metacodes in
    the document. The system allows of multiple views of the same content, the
    ability to work solely on structure and solely on content, storage
    efficiency of multiple versions and efficiency of operation. 


    Wouldn't this cover technologies like CSS and LaTeX as well?

    Uncredible.  It's a shame after so much great software came out of Canada.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

     @Huf Lungdung said:

    What if i4i instead sued some small start-up who couldn't fight this?

    i4i wouldn't make any bloody money that way.

    The possible outcomes here are:
    1) Scare everyone who uses XML into giving them license money because Microsoft actually has to stop selling Office or license the patent
    2) Microsoft buys out the patent
    3) Microsoft buys out the "company"
    4) One of the probably half dozen idiotic software patents the company owns gets thrown out.

    You'll notice that 3 of those 4 options involves the people  running the scam making fistfulls of cash - and it'll be cheaper for Microsoft to do #2 or #3 than it will be for them to fight for #4.

     

     

    Also, that patent covers something I wrote THIS MORNING.



  • Doesn't patents have to not be based on common knowledge? You can't patent the wheel even if it isn't patented yet.



  • You could have panented the wheel

     6000 years ago! Back then it would have been a novel invention. However, I think the patent should have lapsed by now, unless someone might have submarined and extended it.....



  • Re: You could have patented the wheel

     Ahem.

     



  • FACEPALM-A-RAMA!1

     

     

    The software giant also must pay $290 million in damages to Toronto-based firm i4i

     

    @Michel Vulpe, founder of i4i and inventor of the patent said:

    We are very pleased with the terms of the final judgment. ... We feel vindicated with this result.

     

    a world leader in the design and development of XML-based collaborative content solutions and technologies.

     

    we will certainly follow it carefully and we will [...] ensure that the judgment is upheld,



  • @aihtdikh said:

    Ahem.

    Nah, can't take those kangaroophiles too seriously. They're upside-down, most of the time, gets blood rushed into your head, makes you do stupid things.



  • As I understand it, the patent in question doesn't actually "patent XML" per-se, nor does it specifically mention XML. The patent covers a system that processes a "document markup langauge" and splits it into seperate text and tag-table structures. A simple algorithm that is surely as old as SGML. Web browsers, WYSIWYG HTML editors, even RTF editors must all implement some form of this algorithm almost by definition.

    Hopefully this will lead to proper patent reform. Since one of America's largest corporations has been seriously inconvienieced and we all know that America looks after its large corporations.



  •  How is it possible to patent something as vague as this? And why stop there?

    Let's patent "a method to provide machines with set of instructions which will cause them to behave in a predictable manner", if we add some gibberish it should actually work.



  • I like how this Canadian company decided to sue an American company based in Washtington in an East Texas District Court.



  • Am I an idiot, or am I the only one who read the article? It says that they are suing over a feature that "lets users create custom XML documents", not the use of XML itself.

    Meh. Still a WTF.



  • @ajp said:

    I like how this Canadian company decided to sue an American company based in Washtington in an East Texas District Court.

    Because the Texas court is known for these kind of cases. And always in favor of the one who sues.



  • @mallard said:

    The patent covers a system that processes a "document markup langauge" and splits it into seperate text and tag-table structures. A simple algorithm that is surely as old as SGML. Web browsers, WYSIWYG HTML editors, even RTF editors must all implement some form of this algorithm almost by definition.

    Don't they use a DOM instead of a tag-table?

    From what I understand is that this is an obscure feature in Word which allows you to edit documents based on your own custom XML schema or something like that but nobody seems to know exactly what it is or how it works.



  • @derula said:

    @aihtdikh said:
    Ahem.

    Nah, can't take those kangaroophiles too seriously. They're upside-down, most of the time, gets blood rushed into your head, makes you do stupid things.

     

    Thought you might have linked to something like this. I remember when it was on TV: lots of jokes that this guy reinvented the wheel!



  • @mallard said:

    As I understand it, the patent in question doesn't actually "patent XML" per-se, nor does it specifically mention XML. The patent covers a system that processes a "document markup langauge" and splits it into seperate text and tag-table structures. A simple algorithm that is surely as old as SGML. Web browsers, WYSIWYG HTML editors, even RTF editors must all implement some form of this algorithm almost by definition.

    Hopefully this will lead to proper patent reform. Since one of America's largest corporations has been seriously inconvienieced and we all know that America looks after its large corporations.

    You must have a short memory.  Microsoft has been hit by patent trolls before (remember the browser plugin bullshit?) and the law hasn't changed.  And, really, "reform" isn't as easy as one makes it sound.  The problem is the patent office is granting patents on existing technologies and obvious inventions.  The only way to fix this is to create more red tape and bureacracy in the USPTO and by the time Congress is done with it the bill will probably also include tax breaks for unions, a toy fund for underprivileged adopted children of lesbians, foreign aid to Palestinians so they can keep killing civilians, the nationalization of a few more industries, NEA grants to "artists" making a mosaic of President Obama out of used condoms from the HIV-positive and God knows what else.

     

    Anyway, companies like Microsoft and IBM would probably prefer losing the occassional lawsuit to a patent troll to the alternative of having more hoops to jump through to get patents on useful technologies without any guarantee it will actually make things better.  I mean, the USPTO has already done such a fantastic job that vastly expanding the size of the agency and giving more oversight to bureaucrats will improve things, right?



  • It's true. Our legal system is fucked.

    I don't know how it is elsewhere, but the best example I use is how, in Texas, if someone else backs into you, you are considered at fault for failing to maintain a proper distance from their vehicle.



  • @durendal.mk3 said:

    It's true. Our legal system is fucked.

    I don't know how it is elsewhere, but the best example I use is how, in Texas, if someone else backs into you, you are considered at fault for failing to maintain a proper distance from their vehicle.

    That's the best example you can think up?  For serious?



  • Personally, what I'm wondering is why the patent troll in question didn't also sue over Excel and PowerPoint, since they both have XML-based formats which separate content from presentation as well.



  • @codeman38 said:

    Personally, what I'm wondering is why the patent troll in question didn't also sue over Excel and PowerPoint, since they both have XML-based formats which separate content from presentation as well.

    Mebbe simple-minded patent troll iz simple-minded?


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