RE: Microsoft files for XML patents, says C|Net
I just responded to Bob Wyman's reply. You both have more experience and insight into this than I, and this appears to be a more potentially damaging development than I thought. Ciao, Rex At 8:05 AM +1100 1/25/04, Doug Hudgeon wrote: >-----Original Message----- > >.... > >A more practical approach would be for the open >source/open standards community to develop a community converter >application that is bullet-proof (lawyer proof) that takes any word >processing document and converts it into raw text and then produces a >generic XML candidate version which Word users could then approve or >change through the converter application to a candidate version that >they can approve. They can then publish both the Word version for the >community that wishes to use the MS suite and the raw text/XML >version or an Open Office version. It would take a while to get >comfortable with such a wasteful system, but it would at least offer >an alternative to bending the knee to MS and it would help ensure >that XML doesn't become a de facto MS property. > >------------------------ > >The MS patent application can be read narrowly or broadly. I think even the >narrow interpretation would preclude the community converter for word >processing documents. > >Here's how the patent application looks from the perspective of a person who >wants to build a community converter to read, parse and do something to a MS >Word document. > >The broadest claim in the patent is, as always, the first: > >"A computer-readable medium having computer-executable components, >comprising: > >a first component for reading a word-processor document stored as a single >XML file; >a second component that utilizes an XSD for interpreting the word-processor >document, and >a third component for performing an action on the word-processor document." > >This does not apply only to MS Word documents but to all word-processing >documents. However, Microsoft cannot seriously believe that this claim will >have no prior art unless the term "word processor document" is restricted in >meaning (otherwise a web browser displaying HTML could be prior art): > >So what is a Word-processor document? Interestingly, the term is not defined >explicitly but, instead, is defined as an example in the definition of >"markup language": > >" The terms "markup language" or "ML" refer to a language for special >codes within a document that specify how parts of the document are to be >interpreted by an application. In a word-processor file, the markup language >specifies how the text is to be formatted or laid out, whereas in an HTML >document, the ML tends to specify the text's structural function (e.g., >heading, paragraph, etc.)" > >This specifically restricts WPML to formatting markup and apparently >restricts the scope of the patent to the display of text rather than to the >structural function of the text (although I'm not sure where they draw the >line between "laid out" and an element's structural function). > >Here's what their sample document looks like: > >http://v3.espacenet.com/pdfdoc?DB=EPODOC&IDX=EP1376387&QPN=EP1376387&F=128&P >GN=33 > >It's all pretty clear to this point and if the patent is granted the >community converter would be in breach. But the patent application seems to >encompass more than the display of the word-processing documents: > >Despite the title, "word processing document stored in a single xml file", >the patent contains the concept of a "hint" which seems to allow some types >of information to be stored outside the "single XML file". The following >paragraph describes a "hint". > > Other information may also be included within the document that is >not needed by the word-processing program. According to one embodiment of >the invention a "hints" element is included that allows external programs to >easily be able to recognize what a particular element is, or how to recreate >the element. For example, a specific number format may be in a list and used >by the external program to recreate the document without knowing the >specifics of the style. > >Now, despite the above example of a hint as a mechanism to specify the >format of a number in a list, claim 24 describes a hint as: > >"The schema of Claim 23, further comprising a hints element, wherein the >hints element may be used to indicate a meaning for an item." > >Note the use of the term "meaning". > >Read broadly, Microsoft's intent may be to restrict competitors from not >only displaying word processor files identically to MS Word, but also to >stop competitors from using the "hints" to extract meaningful data from the >text elements. So it may be that not only would the community converter be >in breach of the patent, but the community archival and retrieval system may >also breach. > >Now, I am not a patent lawyer, but it seems to me the prior art would need >to be a processor of a marked up document based on a schema (preferably XSD) >containing formatting instructions surrounding a single tag element >containing the text of the document. Optionally, this document could refer >to additional files containing further information about the elements in the >original document. > > > >----------------------------------------------------------------- >The xml-dev list is sponsored by XML.org <http://www.xml.org>, an >initiative of OASIS <http://www.oasis-open.org> > >The list archives are at http://lists.xml.org/archives/xml-dev/ > >To subscribe or unsubscribe from this list use the subscription >manager: <http://lists.xml.org/ob/adm.pl> -- Rex Brooks GeoAddress: 1361-A Addison, Berkeley, CA, 94702 USA, Earth W3Address: http://www.starbourne.com Email: rexb@s... Tel: 510-849-2309 Fax: By Request
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