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MS Files for Broad XML/Word-processing Patent in NZ 363

Posted by timothy
from the pending dept.
Unloaded writes "In the New Zealand Herald, Adam Gifford has written an article blasting Microsoft for burying the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office in paperwork. One example is Patent 525484, accepted by the office and now open for objections until the end of May, which says Microsoft invented and owns the process whereby a word-processing document stored in a single XML file may be manipulated by applications that understand XML."
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MS Files for Broad XML/Word-processing Patent in NZ

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  • XML (Score:5, Informative)

    by sandstorming (850026) <> on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:20AM (#11941545)
    There is a really really good explanation on what XML is and why it works here. []

    The W3C states though that:

    XML was developed by an XML Working Group (originally known as the SGML Editorial Review Board) formed under the auspices of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in 1996. It was chaired by Jon Bosak of Sun Microsystems with the active participation of an XML Special Interest Group (previously known as the SGML Working Group) also organized by the W3C. The membership of the XML Working Group is given in an appendix. Dan Connolly served as the Working Group's contact with the W3C.

    I understand that microsoft aren't claiming to have invented the technology, but it really annoys me that they are trying to patent a use, and a small extract of a software they had only a small part in developing!
  • Full patent text (Score:4, Informative)

    by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:51AM (#11941656) Homepage
    In case anyone is interested and wants to be fully informed what the patent [] actually says [] (so rare a quality in a slashdot reader I find these days), then here is the abstract:

    Patent 525484

    A computer-readable medium having computer-executable components comprises a first component for reading a word-processor document stored as a single XML file; a second component that utilizes an XSD (XML Schema Definition) for interpreting the word-processor document, and
    a third component for performing an action on the word-processor document.

    The computer readable medium can further comprise a validating component configured to validate the word-processor document or a fourth component for displaying the word-processor document. The XSD represents a word-processor's rich formatting and the XSD is published and is available to applications other than the word-processor. The word-processor document can include hints to applications that understand XML.

    The action may be selected from parsing, modifying, reading, and creating the word-processor document and may be fully recreating the word-processor document according to a word processor's set of features.
  • Re:The point of XML (Score:4, Informative)

    by eric76 (679787) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:51AM (#11941657)
    I think they've filed pretty much the same patent in the United States and in Europe.
  • Inventive step (Score:4, Informative)

    by moderators_are_w*nke (571920) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:55AM (#11941671) Journal
    For something to be patentable (at least over here), there must be an inventive step. Using XML to store data is what XML is for, this is an obvious use of existing technlogy and therefore should not be patentable. There's no invention there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:03AM (#11941701)
    The government here just legalised software patents.

    I'm not a particuarly patriotic New Zealander, but I still hold a vague hope that perhaps our patent office may be a tad more strict in its final issuing.
  • by R.Caley (126968) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:16AM (#11941748)
    Patent the idea of patenting other peoples ideas;

    There is an unbelievable amount of prior art.

    Tangentially relevent: one news story recently which seems to have slipped past /. was the decision that in the EU non-published but `everyone knows that' information can count as prior art to kill a patent []. (it was a biotech patent, but clearly the argument has wider applications).

  • Re:Interesting (Score:5, Informative)

    by jrumney (197329) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:17AM (#11941750) Homepage
    It would seem MS is getting patents like these in a delevoped country that has no strong competitors - nor a very strong head when it comes to things IT.

    Perhaps you have hit on their strategy. Many countries will grant automatic patents once a patent is recognized in 7 WIPO countries (though most will require at least 2 of the 7 to be US, Japan or EU). So maybe they're looking for the easiest way in through the back door.

  • by SirSnapperHead (854099) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:26AM (#11941781)
    I like your comment's anti-anti rant. Except the quote you pulled wasn't about G L O B A L I S A T I O N. It was about a free trade agreement whereby the United States uses ths agreement to insert it's own laws into another countries' laws.

    This was recently done to Australia, and included extending copyright to 'harmonise' with the United States, and legalise software patents in that country as well. Other nice things included an attempt by the United States pharmaceutical industry to force the Australian government to abolish their subsidy system which makes medicines more affordable for citizens.

    I can only assume the author is pointing out that further kow-towing to the United States legal system will mean further sillyness in the Patent office.

    Microsoft is NOT just one of many companies playing this game of course. They are the biggest company in the world, and are setting the agenda on software patents as a key plank in their business model. Pointing things like this out is about speaking truth rather than company bashing.
  • Prior Art (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:32AM (#11941798)
    Microsoft did not invent the word processor, nor XML. XML is a revised SGML, and there have been several word processing / DTP programs that stored their documents in SGML.
  • Re:Why the fight? (Score:5, Informative)

    by terryfunk (60752) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:43AM (#11941828)
    Microsoft in no way invented XML. Dave Hollander invented XML.
  • Re:Why the fight? (Score:5, Informative)

    by l3v1 (787564) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @07:12AM (#11941912)
    Well they did invent XML so I dont see what the problem is?

    The problem is guys like you think this way and think they know and that they are right. Patent office clerks probably have about the same amount of information when accept patents like this as you do: a bit below nothing.

  • by vinsci (537958) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @07:14AM (#11941922) Journal
    More information on this case here:

    Landmark Victory in World's First Case Against Biopiracy!! []

    European Patent Office Upholds Decision to Revoke Neem Patent

  • by lachlan76 (770870) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @07:24AM (#11941942)
    XHTML allows stylesheets inside the file, as well as inline styles.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @07:31AM (#11941965)
    Oh , just take any prior art like TeX (1970), Metafont, and LaTeX. IBM had a macro assembler language, and sick editors like Teco and APL, or directly printed in one of Knuth's books.

    Now if MS 'invented' taking a small text file, and saving it so it it took up 1000's of extra bytes, yeah, pay that one.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @07:43AM (#11941996)
    The same application has been filed at the USPTO as publication number 20040210818 [].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @07:53AM (#11942036)
    Anyway, nice of this Microsoft basher to show all his stripes.

    Nice ad hominem there.

    People don't hate Microsoft because it is Microsoft, they hate it because of their low quality, overpriced software and illegal business methods.

  • Re:Opposition (Score:2, Informative)

    by xemplify (550223) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @07:54AM (#11942040)

    The NZOSS [] is opposing this patent []

    In New Zealand we are fighting software patents by making it a national issue that the political parties will have to face.

    The NZOSS is arranging a meeting in which MP's from various political parties will be speaking about their parties position on software patents. The meeting will be in early May on Parliament grounds, Wellington. To find out more join the NZOSS openchat mailing list []. Please mod up. ;)

  • Re:salmacis (Score:2, Informative)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <> on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @08:28AM (#11942188) Homepage Journal
    If these morons wouldn't blindly accept patents, this shit wouldn't happen.
  • Re:Oh, great. (Score:5, Informative)

    by JohnFluxx (413620) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @08:51AM (#11942287)
    Gnumeric's .gnumeric file is a single xml file that also has 3rd party programs that can generate the xml file and manipulate it.
  • SGML (Score:2, Informative)

    by paulsnx2 (453081) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @10:16AM (#11942798)
    I find it difficult to believe that those examining this patent failed to realize that XML is the child of SGML (ISO 8879), a data format whose purpose was structure documents for easy algorithmic manipulation, and whose development was funded largely by public funds. From the W3C:

    The Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a simple, very flexible text format derived from SGML (ISO 8879). Originally designed to meet the challenges of large-scale electronic publishing, XML is also playing an increasingly important role in the exchange of a wide variety of data on the Web.

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