Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Devil's Advocate: M$ foolish patent policy

Filed under
Microsoft

Is it really true that Microsoft has patented the transformation of objects into XML? That would certainly be proof, if proof were needed, that so-called intellectual property has little to do with innovation.

Software objects involve ingenious ideas that have had growing attraction. The concepts were always sound, and they were all invented before Microsoft even existed. But their use was limited because applications were restricted in scope and computer power was scarce. As those factors changed, so objects became far more central to computing.

Likewise, although XML itself is a relatively recent phenomenon, it is based on SGML. And SGML was also invented long before the foundation of Microsoft. Again, it was a question of timing, as the tantalising goal of building self-describing data looked to be achievable with rising hardware capabilities.

It is reported that Microsoft has now achieved a patent on the transformation of objects to XML and vice versa. This is a pretty bizarre thing to happen. As an industry analyst, I became aware of XML as soon as it started to make waves. My immediate reaction was that XML documents were objects without the behaviour.

Now that was hardly an astonishing insight. I would never have expected to rush off and patent it, even if I could afford to patent anything. It was an insight that was common to anyone who had at least half an understanding of both objects and XML. I must have discussed the point with numerous people, and most likely spoken about it at public conferences. If it is a patentable idea, then the whole patents system is demonstrably absurd.

If large companies are to be granted patents on ideas that have been commonplace for years and are based on fundamental concepts well understood for decades, they might as well be given taxation powers. The idea that their revenues are hard won in competitive markets will be defunct, if it is not already.

The reality is probably just a little more complex.

Full Article.

More in Tux Machines

This Week in Techrights

Open source licensing: What every technologist should know

If you’re a software developer today, you know how to use open source software, but do you know how and why open source licensing started? A little background will help you understand how and why the licenses work the way they do. Read more

Kali Linux 2017.2 Release

We are happy to announce the release of Kali Linux 2017.2, available now for your downloading pleasure. This release is a roll-up of all updates and fixes since our 2017.1 release in April. In tangible terms, if you were to install Kali from your 2017.1 ISO, after logging in to the desktop and running ‘apt update && apt full-upgrade’, you would be faced with something similiar to this daunting message: Read more Also: Kali Linux 2017.2 Released With New Hacking Tools — Download ISO And Torrent Files Here

Open source-based business lessons from a seasoned CEO

The default now is to build from open and in the open. So that's a positive. The downside is that by open source being the default, we may be getting a little lazy. If you remember back 5-10 years, open sourcing was a big deal, and it forced a level of rigor that may have led, in some cases, to founders and early investors taking better approaches to building their company—for example, shifting towards SaaS wherever possible, in part because of the ability to demonstrate clear value versus their own open source. Read more