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From robert burrell donkin <rdon...@apache.org>
Subject Re: Microsoft patents XML based script automation?
Date Sat, 14 Feb 2004 09:08:59 GMT

On 13 Feb 2004, at 07:28, Conor MacNeill wrote:

> On Fri, 13 Feb 2004 01:19:40 -0500, Noel J. Bergman <noel@devtech.com>  
> wrote:
>> See: http://www.internetnews.com/dev-news/article.php/3312091
>> Patent:
>> http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=/ 
>> netahtm
>> l/search-adv.htm&r=9&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=ptxt&S1=Microsoft.ASNM.&OS=AN/

>> Microsoft&
>> RS=AN/Microsoft
>> Does anyone have any idea how this would effect Ant, Maven, Jelly,  
>> JSP and
>> other technologies that use XML to describe scripting?
>> For that matter, would James' use of XML to configure matchers and  
>> mailets
>> into a mail application be considered scripting?  We have posted  
>> examples of
>> using Sieve scripts within an XML CDATA block.
> It is hard to see Ant being affected as its publication precedes the  
> filing date for the patent, if that is relevant. Not sure about the  
> other projects.

here's the patent:


ant is not really immune. patent law is stacked towards the patent  
holder. even if ant does not infringe, FUD about ant's file format  
would be enough to send shivers through a lot of companies using ant.  
the only way to stop the FUD would be to find a way to challenge the  

IMHO (with the usual i'm not a lawyer stuff)

it seems to me to be a patent about a particular file format (a class  
of xml documents). it's ant builds scripts which include calls to  
scripting languages which may become patent encumbered. if this is the  
case, then it's the date that ant introduced the particular tasks that  
would be important.

could we think asking the US patent office to reconsider the patent  
application on the following basis:

1. prior art (ant - so long as ant supported scripting in other  
languages before 2000)
2. it's very, very, very obvious (using an attribute to describe which  
scripting language should be executed? that's something that even an  
absolute novice would have thought up when presented with the problem!)

this is the tactic being used by the W3C and appears to be having a  
good degree of success at raising awareness of the problem. there is a  
(growing) chance that the US legislature may well look at addressing  
this issue so long that enough good example of harm can be provided.

software patents encourage innovation? don't make me laugh!   

- robert

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