SeattlePI: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has granted Microsoft’s motion to stay an injunction that would prohibit the software giant from selling Word. Microsoft filed the motion Aug. 18 while preparing to appeal a Texas judge’s ruling that the company willfully infringed a patent held by a small Canadian firm on a method for processing custom XML.

Uhhh… did someone forget to tell the patent office that all XML is custom by definition? I’ve had to educate many an executive as XML ascended to “buzzword of the year” in the early 2000’s… they would hear “oh, it’s XML, so it’s the same as [this other XML thing]” and I would have to explain the fundamentals of XML (and why it’s not a one size fits all thing.)

XML has three basic rules: 1) all data is tagged with < and > based tags. 2) all tags must be closed. 3) all tags are case sensitive. That’s it. That’s XML in a nutshell. Everything else about XML documents is defined by schemas that can be used to do anything. Consider two XML documents. One describes a boarding pass receipt; the other is an entry from a library catalog. What do they have in common? The three rules – everything else is custom to data that is being described.

I can’t believe this case is getting traction in any way, shape, or form.

4 thoughts on “Uhhh…”

  1. yeah but… the ruling is _not_ about XML, it is about “method for processing custom XML” so the patent is about the “method for processing” not the XML.

  2. Of course. Patents are about “how” you do something, not “what” you do, but that’s the point. Patenting the “method of processing XML” is akin to patenting breathing or eating or clicking a mouse… pointless.

    I stand by my original post.

  3. quite interesting if you look at the patent,


    granted back in 1998, it actually uses SGML in the example. The patent is really about separating content from presentation using a markup language, any markup language.

    I’m surprised they got the origibnal patent since CSS must have been about then, I guess they managed since CSS is not writen an SGML type language.

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