Microsoft Word Falls Foul of XML Patent

Uh oh, this sounds really bad! LWN is reporting that:

Here is a press release from legal firm McKool Smith, which is quite proud at having gotten a US court to rule that Word violates patent #5,787,499. “Today’s permanent injunction prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML.” The text of this patent is quite vague; if it stands it could almost certainly be used to make life difficult for free software as well.

Microsoft taking a beating for this is not something to celebrate, this is yet another example of how software patents are really bad for all the players in computing.

8 thoughts on “Microsoft Word Falls Foul of XML Patent

  1. Why on earth are they focusing on XML?
    If the patent is enforceable, one particular technology would appear to be totally hamstrung: “plural metacodes separating content from structure” = RDF.
    Are newsfolks not seeing the bigger, next-generation picture?

  2. i think it is something to celebrate. microsoft will inevitably appeal and almost certainly win their appeal. they will also likely do serious damage to the general enforcement of software patents in the process…the prospect of that happening is the reason to celebrate.

  3. @Rich – that’s always the worry.. it’s why software patents are inherently a very bad idea as they’re just patents on mathematical algorithms at their heart.. 🙁
    @ChrisB – strange as always! 😉
    @ChrisSmart, @Craig – maybe – *if* Microsoft don’t just buy the company/patent and then decide to use it on others (as it’ll now have a useful legal precedent for shutting down office applications that use XML) – could be another weapon in their battle against 🙁

  4. Pingback: The Musings of Chris Samuel » Blog Archive » i4i Says XML Patent Doesn’t Affect!

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