Thursday, June 02, 2005

Checkpoint 6898604

According to ZDNet UK News, that's the number of the patent issued to Microsoft for the conversion between data objects and XML.

In case you aren't aware, XML is actually an open standard developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The standard is free for all to come and have a look but, with this development, you'll have to get Billy Boy's permission before you can touch!

How open a standard can it be when it's shackled by this crap? The barriers to openness are being moved 'quietly' into place.

Except it isn't as quiet as that, or as straightforward.

I mentioned this development to a colleague, whose comment (after he retrieved his jaw from the deck) was that it meant XML would just die: people would create something else to use instead.

And that is precisely what will happen (if M$ should ever choose to enforce this little perk)

Patents are supposed to provide the inventor with the means of obtaining due recognition and recompense for the use of the invention. However, from what I have seen, what actually happens is that, rather than shuffle meekly through the toll gate that has been erected, the rubes find a way to go through the hedge. A lot of effort may be expended in poking holes in the hedge, too. (I suppose that's where the argument that patents encourage innovation comes from)

In other words, patents aren't really about provision of service so much as denial of service. As such, they are simply Tools of mischief

Meantime, an interesting article on Groklaw concerning attempts to find appropriate wording is to be found here (it seems that the UK patent office found the wording to the EU software patent quite inadequate). I still remain hopeful that the teeth to this particular beast will eventually be pulled, and we can all get on with life.
Update (June 6). I am relieved to see that Tim Bray has pointed out, and reproduced, an article by Greg Aharonian that more or less demonstrates that the patent is invalid. Aharonian is a patent lawyer, so his creds to comment on this topic are somewhat more substantial than mine (not that it stops me!). So, the barriers may be broken down... this time.
Fade to the words of an old Seekers song...

We'll build a world of our own, that no one else can share.
All our sorrows we'll leave, far behind us there!
And I know you will find, there'll be peace of mind,
when we live in a world of our own.


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