Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Devil's Advocate: M$ foolish patent policy

Filed under

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

Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) Reached End of Life, Upgrade to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

Today, July 28, 2016, was the last day when the Ubuntu 15.10 (Wily Werewolf) operating system received updates for the software available in the repositories, as well as security fixes. Read more

systemd and DebConf16

  • systemd backport of v230 available for Debian/jessie
    At DebConf 16 I was working on a systemd backport for Debian/jessie. Results are officially available via the Debian archive now. In Debian jessie we have systemd v215 (which originally dates back to 2014-07-03 upstream-wise, plus changes + fixes from pkg-systemd folks of course). Now via Debian backports you have the option to update systemd to a very recent version: v230. If you have jessie-backports enabled it’s just an `apt install systemd -t jessie-backports` away. For the upstream changes between v215 and v230 see upstream’s NEWS file for list of changes. (Actually the systemd backport is available since 2016-07-19 for amd64, arm64 + armhf, though for mips, mipsel, powerpc, ppc64el + s390x we had to fight against GCC ICEs when compiling on/for Debian/jessie and for i386 architecture the systemd test-suite identified broken O_TMPFILE permission handling.)
  • DebConf16 low resolution videos
    If you go to the Debian video archive, you will notice the appearance of an "lq" directory in the debconf16 subdirectory of the archive. This directory contains low-resolution re-encodings of the same videos that are available in the toplevel.

Linux Kernel

Red Hat News