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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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  • salmacis (Score:5, Insightful)

    by salmacis2 (643788) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:13AM (#11941521)
    Would this be the same Microsoft that is arguing for patent reform?
    • Re:salmacis (Score:5, Funny)

      by svanstrom (734343) <tony@svanstrom.org> on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:21AM (#11941549) Homepage
      No, it's the other one.
      • You never know. He may be stuck in alternate history where anti-trust trials actually work.
    • Would this be the same Microsoft that is arguing for patent reform?

      Patent reform in the US, after burying the rest of the world under software patents you mean?

    • Re:salmacis (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:27AM (#11941575)
      When the rules are there, you play by them. That's just what Microsoft is doing.

      Microsoft has indicated that they want to see the rules changed, because they believe that the rules are broken. Again, as long as the rules remain unchanged, Microsoft has no choice but to play by them; it would be foolish not to.

      There is nothing hyprocrital in what Microsoft is doing, so you need not use that tone.

      For those of you that would like an analogy: Imagine saying "I believe that there should be no income tax." Now, while an income tax is still in place, would you spend money as if there were no income tax? Surely not. That doesn't make you a hypocrite.

      Next, Image saying "I believe that the patent system is broken." Now, while the system is broken, are you going to file patents as if the rules were ideal? Surely not. That doesn't make you a hyprocite.
      • There is nothing hyprocrital in what Microsoft is doing, so you need not use that tone

        Mom?!?

      • Re:salmacis (Score:3, Insightful)

        by booch (4157)
        But the current rules say that the idea must be new, and not obvious to someone skilled in the art. This patent is clearly obvious, and has been done before (KWord at the least, perhaps even programs using DocBook). Anyone skilled enough to "invent" this would/should know that it is obvious, and that it had been done before.

        So Microsoft is breaking the existing rules. Now can we be mad at them?
      • Re:salmacis (Score:4, Interesting)

        by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @01:42PM (#11944689) Homepage Journal
        When the rules are there, you play by them. That's just what Microsoft is doing.

        In the US the rules state that you will not be granted a patent if there is prior art or if the invention is obvious. The USPTO is not properly enforcing the rules, but the law still stands. Microsoft is taking advantage of the fact that the rules aren't being enforced. Even though they would lose many court cases over these patents they apply for them anyway, knowing that they will almost never be overturned because smaller players can't afford the fight. That's not playing by the rules, that's circumventing them.

        You can drive on the wrong side of the road when a cop's not around. That doesn't make it right.
  • Oh, great. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica (681592) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:17AM (#11941531)
    So basically, MIcrosoft is trying to stop OpenOffice, AbiWord, Pages, etc. from being able to import and export Word XML files. Wonderful.

    At least it's not patenting those apps from reading their own format, since they aren't single files (zips and bundles, respectively).
    • So what we need is some kind of generic tool which atomises the word document (or any XML file) up into constituent parts and then feeds it to the OpenOffice, Abiword etc.?
    • ...it would appear that Microsoft is trying, deliberately or inadvertently, to completely dismantle the WTO. If this sort of crap actually succeeds, it might cause enough attrition in the ranks to effectively dump WIPO into the dustbin of history.

      On the other hand, New Zealanders having a rather caustic sense of turnabout, I fear for the minions of the USPTO on the day they get the reciprocal volley and I'd kill to be in an Auckland rugby club the day it hits the news...
    • Yah.. Prior Art.. Sun Microsystems..
    • Assume sarcasm tags where needed, or where you start to feel offended personally...

      First off... Maybe I'm getting something wrong here, but isn't the whole IDEEA behind getting a patent to both ensure the initial inventor (or better said, patent claimer) a fair share of income (out of the actual one) for a LIMITED period of time, so that later on that invention would be freely usable by pretty much anybody ?

      Quoting some encyclopedia, "In the U.S.A any process or device may be patented if it is NOVEL and U
      • Re:Oh, great. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica (681592) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:34AM (#11941805)
        I think that the computer science field is advancing so rapidly that everything is "trivial" (including compression and media codecs), and that even a 1 year patent would hinder the software industry more than it would help it.
      • Re:Oh, great. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by golgotha007 (62687) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:42AM (#11941826)
        Richard Stallman really says it best:

        When CNET News.com asked Bill Gates about software patents, he shifted the subject to "intellectual property," blurring the issue with various other laws.

        Then he said anyone who won't give blanket support to all these laws is a communist. Since I'm not a communist but I have criticized software patents, I got to thinking this might be aimed at me.

        When someone uses the term "intellectual property," typically he's either confused himself, or trying to confuse you. The term is used to lump together copyright law, patent law and various other laws, whose requirements and effects are entirely different. Why is Mr. Gates lumping these issues together? Let's study the differences he has chosen to obscure.

        Software developers are not up in arms against copyright law, because the developer of a program holds the copyright on the program; as long as the programmers wrote the code themselves, no one else has a copyright on their code. There is no danger that strangers could have a valid case of copyright infringement against them.

        Patents are a different story. Software patents don't cover programs or code; they cover ideas (methods, techniques, features, algorithms, etc.). Developing a large program entails combining thousands of ideas, and even if a few of them are new, the rest needs must have come from other software the developer has seen. If each of these ideas could be patented by someone, every large program would likely infringe hundreds of patents. Developing a large program means laying oneself open to hundreds of potential lawsuits. Software patents are menaces to software developers, and to the users, who can also be sued.

        A few fortunate software developers avoid most of the danger. These are the megacorporations, which typically have thousands of patents each, and cross-license with each other. This gives them an advantage over smaller rivals not in a position to do likewise. That's why it is generally the megacorporations that lobby for software patents.

        Today's Microsoft is a megacorporation with thousands of patents. Microsoft said in court that the main competition for MS Windows is "Linux," meaning the free software GNU/Linux operating system. Leaked internal documents say that Microsoft aims to use software patents to stop the development of GNU/Linux.

        When Mr. Gates started hyping his solution to the problem of spam, I suspected this was a plan to use patents to grab control of the Net. Sure enough, in 2004 Microsoft asked the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) to approve a mail protocol that Microsoft was trying to patent. The license policy for the protocol was designed to forbid free software entirely. No program supporting this mail protocol could be released as free software--not under the GNU GPL (General Public License), or the MPL (Mozilla Public License), or the Apache license, or either of the BSD licenses, or any other.

        The IETF rejected Microsoft's protocol, but Microsoft said it would try to convince major ISPs to use it anyway. Thanks to Mr. Gates, we now know that an open Internet with protocols anyone can implement is communism; it was set up by that famous communist agent, the U.S. Department of Defense.

        With Microsoft's market clout, it can impose its choice of programming system as a de-facto standard. Microsoft has already patented some .Net implementation methods, raising the concern that millions of users have been shifted to a government-issue Microsoft monopoly.

        But capitalism means monopoly; at least, Gates-style capitalism does. People who think that everyone should be free to program, free to write complex software, they are communists, says Mr. Gates. But these communists have infiltrated even the Microsoft boardroom. Here's what Bill Gates told Microsoft employees in 1991:

        "If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a comple
        • Agatha Christie (Score:5, Insightful)

          by alsy (214858) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @10:31AM (#11942911) Homepage
          The example I give when people have trouble understanding that software patents are bad is what would have happened if Agatha Christie had been able to patent the murder mystery novel.

          People understand that this is ridiculous, and why only copyright is used for books.

          Ditto for software
    • [ o basically, MIcrosoft is trying to stop OpenOffice, AbiWord, Pages, etc. from being able to import and export Word XML files. ]

      But only in New Zealand... those poor Kiwis.
      • Re:Oh, great. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mrchaotica (681592)
        Remember how the US pushed free-trade laws, forcing Australia to honor US patents? Well, those laws work in the opposite direction too, and I'm sure we're going after New Zealand next...
  • Patent Laywers at the patent office are getting snow-blizzard.

    Does this means, the patent reviewers are added to the growing list of Microsoft-bashers?
  • Patent the idea of patenting other peoples ideas; that ought to stop most of Microsofts patents. =)
  • XML (Score:5, Informative)

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

    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!
    • Re:XML (Score:5, Insightful)

      by symbolic (11752) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:08AM (#11941722)

      What Microsoft is attempting to do is patent one of the uses intended for XML from the very start. One of the mandates put forth by the XML working group was that XML shall support a wide variety of applications,. Given this, I'm puzzled at how anyone at Microsoft could even consider such a move. Wait....no I'm not. Just the same, if this patent is approved, something is very, very wrong.
  • The point of XML (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moochfish (822730) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:21AM (#11941553)
    Great. With this, Microsoft is making XML is their own "proprietary" format. At least in that country.
  • by wcdw (179126) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:21AM (#11941554) Homepage
    Sadly, they *are* likely to have at least some of their patents accepted, even if the more absurd ones wind up on /.'s front page.

    And eventually they'll find a way to sue some company or another over one or more of them. If that company settles, rather than attempts to challenge the patent (which can be considerably more expensive), voila! - a profit center.

    It's absurd that the only 'ideas' we're allowed to use in programming are those that either haven't already been thought of (and then it would be wise to get your own patent, or at least document prior art) or those that existed before the birth of the hideous cancer known as software patents.

    But hey -- I feel so much safer, I guess it's *worth* losing all my rights, eh?
  • by mrchaotica (681592) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:22AM (#11941555)
    If the patent is for processing word processing XML files, how do they define that? Is XHTML word processing document? What about Docbook?

    And how is it that word processing XML in particular is innovative and worthy of a patent? Isn't it fundamentally the same as processing any other XML?
  • by ehack (115197) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:23AM (#11941564) Journal
    You cannot blame MS for playing according to the rules; nor can one blame the policticians for being accomodating and writing the rules to benefit such a generous contributor. Anyone here say vicious circle ?
    • You certainly can! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by interactive_civilian (205158) <mamoru@gma i l . com> on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:32AM (#11941589) Homepage Journal
      ehack said:
      nor can one blame the policticians for being accomodating and writing the rules to benefit such a generous contributor.
      Yes, you certainly can blame the politicians here. It is not their job to accomodate generous contributors. It is their job to represent the will of the people (ALL the people, not just the wealthy contributors) that they are supposed to be governing.

      This "vicious circle" could be easily broken if there were politicians that actually cared about their constituents and the welfare of their city/state/country rather than caring for the almight dollar/yen/euro/etc.

      • It is their job to represent the will of the people (ALL the people, not just the wealthy contributors) that they are supposed to be governing.

        What about cases where a politician is elected (even by more than 50% of the voters) but his constituency disagrees with him on a particular issue (say, 75% against him) -- should he go with his declared platform (which was bought as a whole) or the will of the people? (I'm not saying that's the case here at all. I'm wondering what should define "the will of all th
    • by mrchaotica (681592) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:34AM (#11941596)
      They're tricking the patent office into accepting their applications which are just outside the rules.* That patent isn't innovative, nor is it even new at all! What Microsoft is doing is like watching somebody create the automobile and then patenting sedans. It's just a subset and a particular use of an existing technology, not anything new at all!

      *assuming NZ's patent rules are anything like the US's
    • You know this reminds me of Braveheart. Why you ask? Well when William Finaly got Scottland back on the map all the "loards" cared about was their rank and position to get to the throne. Don't mind all the people who died for that right, they just "want whats theirs."

      Like our and many other polticians, they want whats good for them. And MS is good for them, John Q Public can't afford that kind of influence.
  • Shatner? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Rufus211 (221883) <(rufus-slashdot) (at) (hackish.org)> on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:24AM (#11941567) Homepage
    This story.

    Would be better.

    If it didn't read like.

    One of Shatner's.

    Speaches.
  • Ah yes... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xstonedogx (814876) <xstonedogx@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:24AM (#11941568)
    The famous Microsoft interoperability initiative.

    "We're using an open format! You just can't do anything with it unless we say so. And yeah, we're not going to say so unless you're using our product anyway, or paying us a hefty tax that our competitors, both free and otherwise, can't afford. But hey, we're interoperable!"
  • so... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sonictheboom (546359) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:28AM (#11941577)
    is this what you might call patent spam? file millions, some are bound to get through?
    • Re:so... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheOldFart (578597)
      That's what makes this so naughty. Only large corporations are able to file patents for every brain-fart they come up with. The small guy is again rear-ended by the tool created to protect him.
  • by anth (2631) <ajchapman@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:28AM (#11941578)
    I think a lot of the problems with patents would go away if applying for a patent for something that the applicant knew had been done before, or should have known was obvious to someone in that field, was treated as fraud. That is a fine, or maybe even jail time for that applicant and senior management at that company.

    I know, its not going to happen. Even if it did software patents would still be wrong.
    • I think a lot of the problems with patents would go away if applying for a patent for something that the applicant knew had been done before, or should have known was obvious to someone in that field, was treated as fraud.

      From the Patent office position this would require both denying the patent and passing the application to law enforcement.
      Another way of handling things would be that all future patents from the same entity are date stamped and put to the "bottom of the pile".

      That is a fine, or maybe e
      • To: All employees
        Subject: Blame bill.

        Hello all, this is your CEO. I just wanted you all to know that Bill Foobar from Internet Development got the good idea to patent something that was trivial - and we have a little problem because of it.

        We are now in the process of restructuring to support our new business goal: making license plates. It is our plan to do this for the next 5 to 10 years, with vacation time for good behavior. If you are unsure how you will be needed in this regard, don't worry - you
      • all future patents from the same entity are date stamped and put to the "bottom of the pile".

        Putting them on the "bottom of the pile" sounds like they would still have a chance of being approved. Instead, how about suspending the company's filing privileges for a period of, say, 6 months?

        I don't agree with the concept of jail time. Let the punishment fit the crime. Filing fraudulent patent applications -> filing privileges suspended.

  • Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Planky (761118) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:38AM (#11941607) Homepage
    I find this interesting.

    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. This way, the patents will be in place before anything is noticed and the damage has been done.

    Mind you, they are getting vague patents overseas (read America) such as this.

    I'd be very interested in finding out who, if any, would object to patents such as these here in NZ.
    • 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.

  • Um... prior art... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by beelsebob (529313) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:41AM (#11941619)
    Explain to me in what way the xhtml documents I find all over the web are not word processing documents stored in xml?
  • Patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @05:41AM (#11941623) Homepage
    It would be nice to have some non-monetary penalties apply for frivilous patents. Like, for instance, if a patent gets rejected for being obvious then the firm doing the patenting must wait six months before filing another patent. It would do two things:

    1. Teach the business that they should be more careful when it comes to patents, and
    2. Frees up the patent office to do better research.
    • if a patent gets rejected for being obvious

      Has that even happened since the Louisiana Purchase?

    • by yog (19073)
      Such a policy might have the unpleasant consequence of discouraging individuals from filing patent applications at all, since obviousness is in the eye of the beholder.

      Maybe better for patent examiners to hire people who are more computer savvy, who can see these ridiculous claims for what they are. In the U.S. at least, patent examiners tend to be engineers and other types of highly educated people, but apparently software engineers are not yet in evidence in their ranks.

  • I liked the article's obligatory closing anti-globalisation rant - 'Politicians still talk of a free trade agreement as benefiting this country. The reality is intellectual property rights will be high on the US agenda and it won't be to this country's benefit.'

    Perhaps someone can explain to me how New Zealand's patent office approving dubious patent applications equals the US using globalisation to push their IP agenda?

    Anyway, nice of this Microsoft basher to show all his stripes. I agree of course that
    • Microsoft is just one of many companies playing this game, and its current stream of patent applications has little to nothing to do with Gates' early days writing BASIC for the Altair 8800 if you ask me.

      He was attempting to show that this kind of thing (that is, using shady tactics to poorly implement and then profit from other people's ideas) has always been Microsoft's modus operandi. It would have been nice if he had cited some other examples, like DOS, Windows, Internet Explorer, etc. to connect the

    • 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 Australia
  • 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 [iponz.govt.nz] actually says [iponz.govt.nz] (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.
    • In case anyone is interested and wants to be fully informed what the patent [iponz.govt.nz] actually says [iponz.govt.nz] (so rare a quality in a slashdot reader I find these days), then here is the abstract:

      I'd like to know what the patent actually says.

      At the same time, I'm not particularly interested in what the abstract says.

  • 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 potcrackpot (245556) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:01AM (#11941693) Homepage
    The problem with this article is that it misses the point. Like any good troll, the author asserts facts and opinions that can't be denied, supporting what is unfortunately a skewed and unfair underpinning perspective.

    Yes, the patent is a poor one - although MS did it first (I think), the idea isn't particularly great; it is an obvious idea from just reading the XML RFC.

    However, a google search for "microsoft patent case" reveals page after page of results for microsoft being sued for patent infringement. None of the results, as far as I can see, pertain to Microsoft suing someone else.

    A great deal of large companies have a strategy of defensive patenting: if you've got the patent, no one else can; plus, if you've got one they (an aggressor) infringe and they've got one you infringe, there's a chance that everyone will just forget all about it.

    Microsoft's strategy is consistent with their talk about overhauling the patent system - the system is garbage, but they should hedge their bets and defensive patent in case it (the system) doesn't get changed.

    No-one is getting screwed as much as Microsoft over patents. The author is simply picking on an easy target.
    • I don't agree with your arguments that defensive patenting is effective in that way you described. Patents are very rarely checked for dublicates so it is common that many patents overlaps with each other in as many ways as they can. I compare this all patenting absurd more like creating modern warefare, for example, nukes. If I will have a big, nice, shiny nuke who can turn your capital into ashes in matter of seconds, you won't try to threat me with your nukes too. So we will be equal.

      About those guys wh
    • Microsoft strategy WAS consistent when they pushed for software patents in the first place - because they thought benefits will be more than loses. They were simply wrong - as many greed-driven iniciatives in the world today.
    • by pbhj (607776) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @07:18AM (#11941931) Homepage Journal
      Perhaps you are thinking of "defensive publication"?

      Patents are state licensed monopolies. A monopoly is offensive as it is used to attack others in the wallet if they try to exploit a technological innovation.

      Defensive _publication_ is the firm establishment of prior art for a particular innovation to prevent another from getting a patent. Defensive publication leaves open the way for anyone to use the technology (with the proviso being that it can be established that no previous patent exists for that tech.).

      The patent system can be used for defensive publication but this (usually, ie not in EU,US,UK, at least) doesn't require those presenting the matter for publication to get a patent. For example in the UK (GB patents) the submitted disclosure is made public long before a patent is granted and an applicant can just pull out at that stage if they only want a defensive publication.

      There are also companies which specialise in defensive publication. Publication in journals is also used for this purpose.

      FWIW.
    • Could be, but ... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Craig Ringer (302899) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @07:44AM (#11942003) Homepage Journal
      I'm not entirely convinced about the defensive patent argument. I'm sure it's true for many companies, but I'm not at all inclined to believe MS is one of them.

      - They've tried to actively enforce some patents - admittedly rather old and crappy patents (FAT32 anybody?), but that's still hardly a defensive move.
      - It appears - I have no firsthand knowledge - that they want at least some degree of software patentability in the EU. This doesn't really fit with the purported view that the patent system is broken and they're just playing by the rules until it can be fixed.
      - If they wish to focus on defense with patents, why would they not even reveal details about their patent claims on the now-defunct Sender-ID, let alone license them?

      Now, they're a big company and they do a lot of things - but some of this appears comes from a very high level, the EU patent push in particular. I don't think that's consistent with someone who's just playing along until things can be fixed.
  • by jonbrewer (11894) * on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:29AM (#11941787) Homepage
    Perhaps patent offices should implement a sliding scale for filing fees?

    Instead of offering volume discounts, make each tier of filing (10, 100, 1000 p.a.) progressively more expensive. Say $75 USD each for the first ten applications, $750 USD each for 11-100, $7500 each for 1000+.

    This would prevent overburdening of patent offices (they would have greater resources to cope) without discouraging individuals or small organizations. Can't see who it would harm, and it would certainly prevent abuse except by those with infinite resources.
    • Fun idea, useless with those numbers. Companies file patents to (a) protect themselves against lawsuits ("if you sue me for patent infringement, I'm likely to have something in my archive based on which I can sue you back") and (b) make money through licensing.

      The monetary gain for a company, in the case of (a) through avoided legal costs, and for (b) in actual revenues far exceeds the trivial amounts you specify.

      Make the scale geometric and it starts having teeth :)
  • by Linker3000 (626634) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:37AM (#11941809) Journal
    US Patent Office
    Provisional patent application: PPA1283405995
    Applicant: Microsoft Corp., Redmond
    Date: 12-Feb-2005
    Synopsis:
    A rotating, magnetically polarised (variable), spherical device occupying a non-fixed position in time and space, comprising a semi-liquid core encased by an unstable, multi-layered outer shell surrounded by a mixed-composition liquid/gaseous environment with a range of complex environmental variances, capable of hosting a variety of surface and sub-surface, organic-based life forms supporting social and other interactions at various levels of intelligence using a range of simple-to-complex sensory devices.
  • by Pecisk (688001) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:39AM (#11941813)
    This double-faced strategy is getting a little bit tired. Come on, Microsoft, you think world are gonna along with this? five more years? ten? That's a living in the monopolist wet dream's fantasy - when all this stuff will seriously halt any kind of development in IT, it will be changed, no matter what Microsoft would like to see that.

    Ok, I admit, I'm little bit naive, but hey...

    p.s. I know that they are already a legit industry, who earns in such predatoric way about 300-400 bilions a year. I know all that bullshit. And I wonder - how long it is before everyone will think - hey, let's not do a real job, let extract money from someone else - and no real job will be done.
  • Opposition (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zxombie (626660) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:41AM (#11941821)
    The NZOSS [nzoss.org.nz] is opposing this patent as pointed out here [nzoss.org.nz]
  • Attention: Boss (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ewe2 (47163) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (ootewe)> on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @06:56AM (#11941869) Homepage Journal
    This is an important opportunity to explain to your PHBs how their business (and your livelihood) is going to be circumscribed by Microsoft-only technology unless they make a move to more interoperable and less encumbered software. Compliance is going to cost mega-dollars from lawyers fees to license renewal. It's just not worth it.

    This kind of greed is going to kill XML innovation just by making the mechanisms legally doubtful unless you're a corporation who can afford to waste shareholder's investments.
  • by hedleyroos (817147) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @07:42AM (#11941995)
    A better patent system would be to have an entire community moderate patent applications. Only +5 patents are granted. Think Slashdot. Only those interested in tech affairs read Slashdot. Now simply adapt the /. code to work for the patent system and - profit! Or non-profit really.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @07:43AM (#11941996)
    The same application has been filed at the USPTO as publication number 20040210818 [uspto.gov].
  • by ajs318 (655362) <(sd_resp2) (at) (earthshod.co.uk)> on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @08:21AM (#11942154)
    ..... but isn't a patent supposed to cover one specific means to an end rather than an end in itself? In which case this ought to be struck right down.

    But if that's not enough, then there is plenty of evidence that this is not novel {KWord, anyone? OOWriter?}.

    And if the prior art is not enough, this sort of thing should be obvious to an expert in the field. In fact, all of mathematics is obvious to a mathematician.

    How obvious need obvious be? It's obvious that fire conducts electricity, even if you have never thought about it; because fire is a chemical reaction, a chemical reaction contains charged particles in motion, and charged particles in motion can carry an electrical current.
  • WTO? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday March 15, 2005 @11:00AM (#11943089) Homepage Journal
    So, would this fall under the 'least common denominator' concept of the WTO?

    "see, we hold a patent over there, so you must honor it over here"

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

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