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Microsoft Receives XML Patent 441

gsfprez writes "Well, i'm no patent lawyer, but if I'm reading this right, it seems that the basics of XML are being patented by Microsoft. If not the files themselves - at least what most of us would do with XML files. From the abstract: 'Systems, methods and data structures for encompassing scripts written in one or more scripting languages in a single file.' That smacks of what my config files do on my G5 for my G5, if you read it with a biased eye." We noted this was happening earlier, and now it's finally come to pass. While the patent does sound a bit dubious, a Microsoft spokesman was quick to deny that they'd be so bold as to patent XML itself.
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Microsoft Receives XML Patent

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  • Quick... (Score:5, Funny)

    by shrykk ( 747039 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:03PM (#8264935)
    Someone go patent .txt files!
    • Patent plaintext?
      ASCII or EBCDIC?
    • Re:Quick... (Score:5, Funny)

      by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @09:49PM (#8265829)
      Better yet ... someone go patent the idea of a .DLL file. THAT'll throw 'em. Maybe we can cross-license .XML for .DLL, and avoid .XML hell.
  • by ObviousGuy ( 578567 ) <> on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:03PM (#8264936) Homepage Journal
    They are typically the target of dubious patent lawsuits, actually.

    If anything, I'd imagine that this was more defensive than anything else.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:08PM (#8264988)
      But...but... its MICROSOFT. And this... this is SLASHDOT.

      • by CrackHappy ( 625183 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @09:51PM (#8265851) Journal
        I know the parent is a joke, but at the same time it points out something rather sad about this community. It is rather regrettable that justified or not, anything related to certain companies, ideas or processes is mostly automatically shunned and villified just at the mention of it. Don't get me wrong, I disagree with and sometimes outright dislike Microsoft, but I also try to keep an open mind regarding them. They have proved time and time again that they can and will maliciously perform acts to disrupt competitor's business and livelihood.

        That said, I just want to say that these kinds of patents are absolutely ridiculous. I am really wondering if there is prior art regarding this sort of thing (XML specifically) that can refute Microsoft's patent claim from 2000.

        Anyone have information on that?

        I'm waiting for Groklaw to jump in on this one.
        • by spun ( 1352 ) <loverevolutionar ... m ['hoo' in gap]> on Thursday February 12, 2004 @10:50PM (#8266278) Journal
          I have been all over this big wide world and lived in a lot of different places, and majority of people everywhere do, think and say what eveyone else is doing, thinking and saying. This is not to be construed as a bad thing: it puts food on the table. It gives the species the solid base to support the innovators, who do oftentimes get it wrong after all.

          We geeks like to think we are different, and for the most part we are more intelligent than the average. We just aren't all as individualistic as we might like to believe. Geeks may be more selective in the herds they choose to follow, but most geeks still choose to follow one herd or another.

          Not you, of course, dear Moderator person. You're a true individual. It's those other geeks over there. Sheep, I tell you!
          • We geeks like to think we are different, and for the most part we are more intelligent than the average.

            A perfect example - *most* people think that they're of above average intelligence.

            I don't think that we, as a group, are any more intelligent (on average) than any other group of skilled professionals, be they lawyers, artists, businessmen, or what have you. We're just very good at things that we consider require a high degree of intelligence. That's not necessarily always the case, and certainly does
        • by mr_infiniti ( 577800 ) on Friday February 13, 2004 @12:01AM (#8266722)
          XML, which is a subset of SGML, was conceived about 1996 and became a W3C standard on Feb. 10, 1998. No one owns the exclusive rights to XML. It is licence-free and platform independant (doesn't sound like M$, does it?) For reasons too off-topic to get into here, suffice to say, there are different schema dialects of XML. The W3C XML Schema Working Group received a dialect submission from M$ in January, 1998, even before XML 1.0 was complete: XML-Data schema language and XDR (the XML Data-Reduced Schema), a subset of the W3C's final recommendation. Needless to say, M$ (and some others) products offer full support for XDR. There are other dialects and schemas of XML as well, such as the well known DTD, XSD, XPath, XLink, XPointer, XSL, SAX, XSLT, etc. and surely others I will offend someone by failing to mention. So to answer your question, M$ cannot patent XML - no way - but they certainly do have prior art to XML-data and XDR. This isn't a big deal because there is no neccessity in using these schema; XML is a great, open-ended language with lots of alternatives - heck, invent your own! Some references:
    • by gcaseye6677 ( 694805 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:10PM (#8265007)
      What will they do with all of those patents years from now when they have lost, or are about to lose, their monopoly on the desktop after some powerful new competitor emerges? Introducing Microsoft's newest division, MSSource!
    • by MrRTFM ( 740877 ) * on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:21PM (#8265130) Journal
      That's not the point. All the big companies are safe from each others patent suits because each of them use technology from the others patents portfolio's.

      The problem is that if they wanted to, they really could crush all new and small companies like a bug.

      I can only really see 3 outcomes:
      1. Software Patents become irrelevant and therefore useless (HA!)
      2. The big companies keep newcomers out with lawsuits
      3. They keep collecting patents but never use them, and small companies live in fear that at any stage they can be crushed.

      Its so ridiculous its almost funny.
    • by Col. Klink (retired) ( 11632 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:41PM (#8265301)
      Oh, what's this []?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:04PM (#8264939)
    I first read the headline as "Microsoft Receives XML Patent".... oh shit that was the headline.
  • by conteXXt ( 249905 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:04PM (#8264941)
    and they sneak a patent though while we all look for the source code.

  • What next? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Carnildo ( 712617 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:04PM (#8264943) Homepage Journal
    Gee. Next thing you know, someone'll patent the "A method for gas exchange by alternate inductions of overpressure and underpressure", aka "breathing".
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:12PM (#8265023)
      Next thing you know, someone'll patent the "A method for gas exchange by alternate inductions of overpressure and underpressure", aka "breathing".

      By your definition, it sounds as though the development and innovations that would make farting possible would be impeded, since there would be prior art.

  • Sue this (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:05PM (#8264947)
    <FRUIT DESCRIPTION>Bananas are yellow, and research
    has indicated that they are the favorite food of
    monkeys.</FRUIT DESCRIPTION>
    <FRUIT IMGSRC>012199-banana.jpg</FRUIT IMGSRC>
    <FRUIT DESCRIPTION>Oranges grow on trees, and are the
    main constituent of orange juice.</FRUIT DESCRIPTION>
    <FRUIT IMGSRC>012199-orange.jpg</FRUIT IMGSRC>
    <FRUIT NAME>Strawberry</FRUIT NAME>
    <FRUIT DESCRIPTION>Strawberries are a popular fruit
    in the Summer months.</FRUIT DESCRIPTION>
    <FRUIT IMGSRC>012199-strawberry.JPG</FRUIT IMGSRC>
    <FRUIT DESCRIPTION>Tomatoes are a vital constituent
    of pizzas and other convenience foods.</FRUIT DESCRIPTION>
    <FRUIT IMGSRC>012199-tomato.jpg</FRUIT IMGSRC>
  • Language (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cujo_1111 ( 627504 )
    Damn, I wish patents had 2 sections to them, one for patent lawyers and the other for the rest of us to understand what the hell they are going on about.

    I don't believe I am an idiot (open to discussion though :) ) but I find that the language used on the patents makes getting the idea in a logical way nearly impossible.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:05PM (#8264953)
    In what CEO Bill Gates called "an unfortunate but necessary step to protect our intellectual property from theft and exploitation by competitors," the Microsoft Corporation patented the numbers one and zero Monday.

    With the patent, Microsoft's rivals are prohibited from manufacturing or selling products containing zeroes and ones--the mathematical building blocks of all computer languages and programs--unless a royalty fee of 10 cents per digit used is paid to the software giant.

    "Microsoft has been using the binary system of ones and zeroes ever since its inception in 1975," Gates told reporters. "For years, in the interest of the overall health of the computer industry, we permitted the free and unfettered use of our proprietary numeric systems. However, changing marketplace conditions and the increasingly predatory practices of certain competitors now leave us with no choice but to seek compensation for the use of our numerals." t. htm
  • by vicparedes ( 701354 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:06PM (#8264971)
    a Microsoft spokesman was quick to deny that they'd be so bold as to patent XML itself
    I feel much better now.
  • not a patent of XML (Score:5, Informative)

    by Pr0xY ( 526811 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:06PM (#8264973)
    this seems more like a patent for embedding a script within XML, which is IMHO fair enough. Read the patent carefully, it is describing using XML in a specific way, not XML itself..

    the text of the /. headline is a bit misleading.

    • by dekashizl ( 663505 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:16PM (#8265073) Journal
      Agreed. The patent seems to be about embedding multiple scripts in a single XML file and ways for extracting and executing them appropriately. MS has done this for a while in WSH (Windows Script Host) []. This is a far cry from "patenting XML".

      That being said, the patent is a bit over the line, as compared to say, the light bulb or the washing machine. I mean, come on... You're putting generic stuff (code of different types) into a generic file type (XML) and then executing it. This isn't especially novel or unique, and I'm sure plenty of people (myself included) have been doing this for quite some time.
      • embedding multiple scripts in a single XML file and ways for extracting and executing them

        Doesn't everyone else call this a virus?


      • ..just what we all need.
    • If what you say is true, then I find it hard to believe that it's patentable. But unfortunately not impossible to believe.

      Does this mean I can get a patent for writing scripts in any new language that comes along, or will Microsoft claim that would infringe this patent? In other words, does this patent imply that Microsoft owns the idea of using any new computer language to write scripts, even before those languages are invented? If not, then how on earth can they get a patent for using this particular lan

    • Prior Art? (Score:5, Informative)

      by robbyjo ( 315601 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:21PM (#8265125) Homepage

      this seems more like a patent for embedding a script within XML, which is IMHO fair enough.

      Can we say Ant [] anyone? In a way, Ant is also a script, albeit it's geared towards installation. Or did I miss something?

    • by morelife ( 213920 ) <f00fbug@postREMOVETHI S m> on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:21PM (#8265131)
      the text of the /. headline is a bit misleading.

      W H A T W A S T H A T ? ? ?
    • Oh you mean ASP, JSP, Possibly PHP, CFM, Miva...

    • for what its worth - i submitted the headline as

      "Microsoft Patents 'XML Scripting'"

      which is 100% factually correct.

      why the fsck Cowboy neal changed it to something which was NOT correct is beyond fscking me.

      i specifically DIDN"T call it "Microsoft Recieves Patent on XML" or anything else that might resemble that because that is not what happened and i would look like a dumbass.

      i just got home from an interview - over beers - so it took a while. And this is what i get home to?

      remember this, the nex
  • by joelparker ( 586428 ) <> on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:07PM (#8264978) Homepage
    Can piano teachers please patent C# asap?
  • Standards (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DarkHelmet ( 120004 ) * <> on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:07PM (#8264982) Homepage

    While the patent does sound a bit dubious, a Microsoft spokesman was quick to deny that they'd be so bold as to patent XML itself.

    Why bother patenting when you have 90% dominance, add your own proprietary standards, and shut everyone else out?

    Yes, I realize that it's a file format, or even considered to be a database of sorts. But what good is a standard when most people use something that breaks standards? Does that majority make Microsoft a standard in itself?

    • Re:Standards (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bmajik ( 96670 )
      because if you dont than no-name companies with no technololgy but super vague patents will sue you over totally obvious ideas with plenty of prior art.

      And win, because our patent system and judges are both ridiculous.

  • VIM config files (Score:3, Informative)

    by polin8 ( 170866 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:09PM (#8264996) Homepage
    Wouldn't VIM config files constitute prior art?

    They can be written in VIM script, perl, python, and ruby al lin one file.

    What about html and php?
  • by OverlordQ ( 264228 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:10PM (#8265008) Journal
    XML based script automation

    What part of that says they're patenting XML?

    Systems, methods and data structures for encompassing scripts written in one or more scripting languages in a single file. The scripts of a computer system are organized into a single file using Extensible Language Markup (XML).

    To me, yes I know I'm not a patent lawyer, basically makes it look like they're patenting the process of combining n scripts into a single XML file, whereupon each individual script can still be called/ran/whatever.
    • Reading the patent, your interpretation seems correct, but what the heck is novel or nonobvious about that? Any competent programmer could come up with a method for doing the same thing in a few hours.
      • by Jester99 ( 23135 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:42PM (#8265308) Homepage
        Any competent programmer could come up with a method for doing the same thing in a few hours.

        I already do it! HTML is XML compliant, no? Well, in my HTML documents, I have this tendency to put these little tags, like, <SCRIPT LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT"> (some code in *gasp* the JavaScript scripting language...) </SCRIPT>

        And though I don't personally use it, I have seen
        <SCRIPT LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT"> (some code in *gasp* the VBScript scripting language...) </SCRIPT>

        Isn't that what they just described in this patent? *scratches head*
      • I agree. Way trivial.

        Lisp, python, perl scripts programs would be covered by claims 1 and 2, which do not refer to XML at all. Here's a lisp script for example:

        (defun foo()
        "description of foo here"
        (do something))

        Hence Lisp seems to be prior art for claims 1 and 2. The Lisp 1 manual is dated 1963. I don't know if Lisp 1 included the documentation string, but by the 80's when I encountered Lisp the documentation string option was part of the language.

        OK, claim 3: encode such a script in XML. wo
    • I don't think they are patenting XML, but they've patented every possibly way of combining multiple scripts into a single file and allowing one or more to be extracted and executed. One of the file formats specifically described is XML.

      In other words they've patented using any form of electronic data storage and retrieval mechanism (file, database, etc) for storing scripts. This is complete bullshit. You would be violating this patent by using a loopback mount for /etc/rc.d .

  • Quick.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:11PM (#8265017)
    someone patent the < symbol. Then Microsoft's patent will be useless.
  • Even if the USPTO doesn't employ the brightest of minds, their employees can't be this stupid. There must be some kind of bribe involved (a big one, one would hope).

    Basically, this patent covers combining "scripts" (as in perl, javascript that are usually stored in separate files into a single XML file. It doesn't even have to be kosher XML: the patent
    says XML "or the like".

    This is the kind of patent that you could easily violate without knowing it existed: all you have to do is (1) lump together s
  • Tuck your..... (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by ratfynk ( 456467 )
    HEAD between your legs and kiss your .net goodbye.

    Here we go again another attempt to modify, obfuscate and dominate!

  • Uh... No? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Temporal ( 96070 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:14PM (#8265062) Journal
    I am reading the patent, and I really don't understand how this could even be interpreted as being a patent on the concept of XML. It is a patent on a system that uses XML, as is pretty explicitly stated in the abstract.

    Whether the patent itself is overly broad is up for debate. However, you can't just quote one line from the abstract and claim that the patent applies to everything in the universe that fits that one line. There is a reason for the body of the patent: to describe the specifics of the invention they are patenting.
    • Re:Uh... No? (Score:3, Informative)

      by HiThere ( 15173 ) *
      But if I understand correctly, they are patenting the idea of storing a collection of code in an XML file.

      Given XML, that's so obvious that it's already been done by several different groups, independantly. And MS is the only one that didn't think the idea was too obvious to patent.

      It was also common practice. (Not best practice, as good supporting tools aren't yet widely available, but not uncommon, either.)

      It also has as prior art:
      1) Stored procedures in a database
      2) Some FORTH dialects which don't c
  • Sounds something like WDDX, but with executable code segments. This patent stuff is getting crazy.
    • "Sounds something like <blank A>, but with <blank B>" is a valid patent, even where <blank A> or <blank B> are items of dubious patentability.

      Not that it should be a valid patent, but... Microsoft isn't exactly stretching the rules here. The rules are clear. And fucked.
  • by dakan ( 746916 )
    I'm wondering what microsoft is going to patent next? I've got a few ideas though:
    * Waking up in the morning
    * Brushing my teeth (or has someone already got that one?)
    * The way I eat my cereal in the morning
    (I've got more but I think I've got my idea across)
  • I remember seeing Microsoft's first attempt at an XML parser, in IE5. It was so horribly broken in such trivial ways, they really have a cheek now claiming that XML is their own technology. Its like the makers of the Titanic trying to patent the steamship.

  • The patents is for the idea of aggregating multiple scripts into a single XML file - seems valid to me.

    Your G5 is doing this? Maybe configuration parameters like the .xnf files in Winamp5 on winbloze, but not scripts themselves?
  • U.S. patents aren't as often recognised or enforced outside the United States, so wouldn't it make sense to develop your software somewhere else, for example, India?
  • Surely though, at it's most basic, Mozilla is a gigantic wad of XML and script that runs in gecko.
  • In USSR... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Aardpig ( 622459 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:23PM (#8265139)
    <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
    <!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//Soviet//Russia" "Very-Strict.dtd">
    <patent owner="Microsoft">
    </patent >
  • by Tarwn ( 458323 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:36PM (#8265264) Homepage
    Ignoring the people that clearly didn't RTFA (MS is not trying to patent XML), whether or not MS gets this patent I think I like the idea that they are looking at. Hadn't seen anyone else wander around with it yet, so I will.

    Here's what I see happening. You will have an XML file that will have 4 scripts in it that do the same thing, each ina differant language. At this point whatever actually is configured to run these files will look at a setting to decide which scripting language you prefer these things to run with, then it will perform the task at hand based on that language.
    I can definately see MS's interest in this, it is along the lines of their .Net components that operate client-side or server-side based on the capabilities of the client browser. I think this would take that farther by allowing for multiple scripting engines and the same type of functionality with applications rather than just web components.

    If nothing else it would be nifty, especially if implemented on *nix and other OS's as well. You could write a single script file to make an executable that would run any one of several internal scripts depending on which language was supported.

    Anyways, could be way off with my guess, but I still think it could have some nifty uses...
  • by cyborch ( 524661 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:38PM (#8265281) Homepage Journal

    Patents are meant to be used for companies for ensure that technology they invent does not get stolen by other companies. MS didn't invent XML. If your legal system let's them patent it then it is flawed very badly.

    I for one are going to ignore this patent outright. Firstly, I'm sitting in europe, safe from the madness that is US law. Secondly, I have prior art. Thirdly, in Denmark buying the most expensive lawyers doesn't make you win cases.

  • by vruba ( 652537 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:39PM (#8265285) Homepage

    From skimming the patent, it looks like they're patenting something vaguely like this:

    <version language='perl' interpreter='/usr/bin/perl'>
    print("I am a banana!\n");
    <version language='python' interpreter='/usr/bin/python'>
    print 'I am a banana!'

    ... in other words, using XML to keep several languages' versions of one script.

    I don't really see the point. There are plenty of extremely portable languages, and what happens if the versions in the XML file fall out of synch? If someone edits the perl version but not the python version, you could be in trouble. Writing a non-trivial algorithm that works exactly the same in two completely different languages (if they weren't completely different, you wouldn't need to drag them both around) seems like more work than just using a portable language in the first place. I suppose it could be useful for keeping scripts across incompatible language versions -- you could have one script for $language v1 though v2.5, and one for all later versions.

    Still, if I were using XML to make my code portable, I'd use Flare [] or something very much like it. Maybe I'm missing the point, but I think this patent is pretty weird.

  • ... Like Javascript? (Score:5, Informative)

    by peatbakke ( 52079 ) <[peat] [at] []> on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:45PM (#8265326) Homepage
    If I'm reading this correctly, the patent isn't about XML itself, but rather using XML as a container for various types of high level scripts.

    From the summary of the patent:

    The present invention incorporates the scripts of a computer system into a single file using Extensible Markup Language (XML) or another suitable format.

    I'm seeing a conflict of interest with client-side web scripting, particularly Javascript and VBScript. Strangely enough, later on they even reference Javascript:

    Within the <file> element, the "extension" attribute is used to indicate the language in which the script was written. For example, if the script was written in JavaScript, then the extension attribute in the file element would read "<file extension="js">".

    Looks suspiciously like <script language="Javascript"> to me.

    On the other hand, there's a lot of talk about "CDATA" in the patent. From what I grok, the patent is specific about using CDATA elements to encapsulate scripting languages. The listed example makes sure to encapsulate all the executable code within <!CDATA> tags .. can anyone clarify whether or not this means that a document must use the CDATA convention in order to be covered by this patent?
  • Patent everything! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 12, 2004 @08:59PM (#8265436)
    I read much of the patent. They seemed to be patenting something that's been around for years. Word Perfect had scripting for its documents circa 1987. All this does is apply the same idea to XML documents. It should have been dismissed for both prior art and obviousness. It this can be patented, then virtually everything new can be patented.

    The best analogy I can think of appeared when carbon fiber became popular back in the 1990s and began to be used in all sorts of things. By this reasoning, someone could have patented carbon fiber for all sorts of uses: golf clubs, shovel, axe and hoe handles... the list is long. In each of those cases, no one could market such a product without paying royalties.

    Whether Microsoft uses this patent for good or ill, it seems to be yet another illustration that the examiners at the USPTO are blittering idiots.

    --Mike Perry, Inkling Books

  • What it really is. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jason Pollock ( 45537 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @09:00PM (#8265446) Homepage
    It's an extension of WinFS (or I assume that's what it's for?). Basically, it's a way to associate meta data with a script without having filesystem support for it.

    So, you want to run a script, you do tabbed completion, it gives you a list of scripts and a description of each one. You select it and it is pulled out of the XML repository and run.

    Useful? I would think that metadata in the FS would be a better way to go about it, but I would love an easy way to browse the scripts on my system. New? I've never seen it before. Obvious? Probably?

    On a local system, this is like being able to use winzip to execute scripts inside of the .zip file, complete with descriptions.

    Patenting XML? Nope, not even close.

    The example should make it pretty obvious... Can't include it here, cause slashdot removes the tags. :)

    Jason Pollock
    • Can someone please post some prior art here (or mod this up?)?

      Believe it or not, what you might think is a "trivial" example, could be a landmark issue in the coming years (considering the current state of affairs), so please post any info that you have...

      Kudos to the author for making this subtle yet EXTREMELY valuable "talking point" public!

      We need to stay on our toes, guys - even the smallest details are going to count significantly in the Intellectual Property realm that is the future (and the presen
  • Open Office? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bach37 ( 602070 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @09:06PM (#8265489)
    What does this mean for

    (An ignorant clueless person when it comes to what the heck XML is.)
  • Right!!!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Esion Modnar ( 632431 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @09:20PM (#8265616)
    Microsoft spokesman was quick to deny...

    Not saying they're lying, but SCO at one time denied any plans to attack Linux... You can't trust anything these corporate weasels say unless they're under oath, and probably not even then. (growl)

  • Pretty generic (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jkabbe ( 631234 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @11:14PM (#8266454)
    The first claim reads:

    1. In a computer system that includes one or more scripts that can be selected for execution by a user, a method for facilitating the identification and selection of the one or more scripts for execution, the method comprising the acts of:

    incorporating the one or more scripts into a file, wherein the file is formatted in such a manner as to enable the one or more scripts to be associated with different scripting languages;

    presenting a list of scripts to a user for selection, wherein the list includes an identifier for each of the one or more scripts, the identifier comprising a descriptive name and functional description of each corresponding script; and

    upon receiving a user selection of a particular identifier that is associated with a script from the list, executing the script that is associated with the particular identifier.

    How many of us here haven't written HTML pages that perform that function? Claims are supposed to be read with the broadest possible interpretation and if *any* of prior art applies anywhere within that range the claim should be rejected.

    I think the problem is that examiners seem to be listed to publications whereas much of what goes on in the computer world is not published - just used. And you would have to literally be an expert in the field to understand the ramifications of claims.
  • by fireman sam ( 662213 ) on Thursday February 12, 2004 @11:38PM (#8266595) Homepage Journal
    From the patent:

    "While the schema or format of the file used to encompass the scripts of a computer system is described herein in terms of XML, it is understood that other file schemas or formats, such as HyperText Markup Language (HTML), Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) or the like or any combination thereof may be used as described herein. "

    PS. How the fsck is this considered an "invention"

    Sounds to me that this patent covers scripting in ANY markup language. I wonder if that little thing called the world wide web with all its scripting in a markup language format (javascript in a html document) would be considered prior art.

  • Business as Usual (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ca1v1n ( 135902 ) <snook@guanotro[ ].com ['nic' in gap]> on Thursday February 12, 2004 @11:45PM (#8266637)
    This is typical software industry fare. Every major software company has hundreds of lame software patents, with the purpose of using them only if someone else brings a stupid suit. IBM dropped four patent infringement claims on SCO when SCO started that mess. They could probably find four patents in their database for any company in the industry.

    This isn't a failure of the system. The system is working fine. It's the system itself that's the problem. Software patents are like nuclear weapons. Nobody likes their existence. Everyone has to have them.
  • form/function (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Friday February 13, 2004 @02:25AM (#8267423) Homepage Journal
    How did patents come to cover the "use" of an invention, and not the invented device? With the post-Reagan PTO, the patent protects the title of the patent, and the rest of the work is just a prop. How is anyone supposed to build a better mousetrap, when "device to trap mice" is patented?
  • by duplicatedAccount ( 523194 ) on Friday February 13, 2004 @05:46AM (#8267995)

    There is no chance that this patent can stand. I make my tax euros exactly that way. I published [] first implementations of that mechanism around '93 (using SGML of course, there was no XML; LaTeX, Lout, roff and other scripts where mixed). I'm even doing this to implement distributed operating system []. I'm using that to proof intrusion resistance, incorruptibility and non-deniability.

    Some looser has wasted some $ for patent fees.

  • by ninejaguar ( 517729 ) on Friday February 13, 2004 @01:09PM (#8271512)
    One of the main goals of the Patent Office is not to issue patents for things unpatentable. This is done by research and discovery of prior art or conflicting patents. They are clearly no longer able to provide this function.

    The Patent office is obviously overwhelmed, underfunded, and in danger of becoming obsolete due to excessive rubber-stamping.

    If you think about it, Slashdot is the most efficient and lowcost patent buster. It's an aggregator of ridiculous and clearly unenforceable patents where the issue is analyzed from every conceivable angle. The government should consider funding Slashdot for this service, as they are throwing our tax-money away by using the Patent Office who fail to provide it.

    = 9J =

The IQ of the group is the lowest IQ of a member of the group divided by the number of people in the group.