EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

05.11.09

On Microsoft’s Software Patents and ODF Fragmentation

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Patents at 5:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We should design some of our extensions explicitly so that IBM can’t run them under OS/2. We need to put real thinking into this.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

MICROSOFT’S INCURSIONS INTO ODF have made a lot of headlines recently because they cause more harm than good to ODF; they fragment it, as usual. Previous posts on this subject can be read chronologically in the following order:

  1. Microsoft’s ODF ‘Support’ is a Scam
  2. Embrace, Extend, and Microsoft Wants to Toss IBM Out of ODF
  3. Microsoft Fragments ODF While Trying to Paint it as “IBM Thing”
  4. Microsoft ‘Patents’ ODF Whilst Also Harming It
  5. ODF Alliance to Denounce Microsoft This Week?
  6. Reader’s Article: The Microsoft Patent Threat to ODF

As it shows above, the most recent debate revolves around software patents, which Bill Gates planned to use against OpenOffice.org. In relation to Microsoft's Costa Rica patent, one reader tells us:

That “single file” phrase is the clue. Sounds like the same patent that was denied in the U.S. and South Africa. As I recall, it was approved in New Zealand. I don’t know whether that’s been undone or not.

While it’s possible and conformant to create an ODF document as a single flat file, that isn’t the way ODF is implemented in all the major apps. A zip container is used to store a series of separate files that make up the document, each containing a different type of data.

The Microsoft patent application was ridiculous in terms of prior art. In essence, what was claimed is the creation of a compound document in a single flat file. A compound document is a document that combines different markup specifications in a single document. There was nothing novel about doing compound documents in a single flat file. E.g., the world has been embedding CSS in HTML files for many years. And as far as claiming originality because it’s done with XML, we have familiar examples like CSS embedded in HTML.

There are so many markup standards out there combined to create compound documents that the world just laughed when that patent application surfaced. The USPTO found no novelty in the claims.

At this stage it’s proabably worth adding that the Gartner Group, which was corrupted by Microsoft, is still sort of promoting Microsoft’s patents publicly, just as it did before. Here is a Gartner analyst lobbying for software patents pretty much by questioning the stance of Free softwarers on this matter. Free software obviously does not pay Gartner’s wages, so even In Re Bilski did excite Gartner all that much:

For those who thought that Bilski closed the door on business method and software patents I’d suggest that there still some way to go on the issue.

Returning to office suites, Microsoft employees (and their familiar friends) can still be seen publicly chatting about ODF, but their personal attacks on IBM’s Weir get no sympathy, not even from the most moderate among observers.

For those of us who have been following the Great Document Format Wars, Gray is being disingenous. To a large extent, ODF has come as far as it has because of Rob’s (and other ODF TC members) fantastic work on it.

As for personal venom, it takes two to tango. Microsoft is certainly no blooming lily where personal attacks are concerned. After all, it takes two parties to build a healthy working relationship. On this, Gray cannot place the blame solely on Rob’s shoulders.

Given how ODF has flourished under Rob’s leadership, there doesn’t seem to be any meritorious reason for him to vacate the Chair.

This whole confrontation is not over yet. The problems which Microsoft has introduced in the market due to Service Pack 2 have yet to show their full impact.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

What Else is New


  1. EPO Cannot Handle Patent Justice With a Backlog of About 10,000 Cases at the Boards of Appeal

    The EPO's long war on judges and on the law has proven to be costly; it's difficult to pretend that the EPO functions like a first-world legal framework



  2. The European Patent Office Increases Surveillance: Can't Get Food Without Being Spied on

    The infamous "War on Cash" has been 'won' at Europe's second-largest institution, where people's diet can now be monitored and indefinitely retained on the system



  3. To GNU/Linux, the Operating System, GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) is Not the Threat. Microsoft is.

    Don't let Microsoft get away with its bogus narration; GNU/Linux is primarily under attack from Microsoft, whereas Software Freedom in general is under attack from many directions



  4. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) Has the Full Support of Techrights

    Our support for the FSF is strong enough that we want to occasionally suggest improvements; there are growing frictions designed to isolate the FSF and cause self-restraint/censorship



  5. Why We Support Phoronix (Whereas Some Others Do Not)

    Some people try to characterise Michael Larabel as the 'bad boy' of Linux even though Michael is probably the hardest working Linux journalist out there



  6. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: The Simplest Ways that AI will Change Computing

    "AI is already used to help kill people. We should be cautious, and know that the best rules we come up with (like no doing magic outside the school grounds) won't be followed all the time."



  7. Links 20/8/2019: DragonFlyBSD Developing DSynth

    Links for the day



  8. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Narcissism in The Community

    "Narcissists are drawn to intelligent people. They take great pleasure in attacking, controlling and defeating intelligent people because it makes them feel smarter and more important."



  9. Breaking the Law Has Become the Norm at the European Patent Office

    The European Patent Office’s ongoing practice of destroying critics/whistleblowers and crushing unions, judges, examiners etc. — as well as threats and bribery of the media — ultimately mean a perpetual state of lawlessness that, if it prevails, will let patent trolls raid the European economy and stall innovation



  10. Links 20/8/2019: KMyMoney 5.0.6, Kdenlive 19.08

    Links for the day



  11. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Free Software in Education

    "If everyone learns to code, then everyone gains some understanding of how to code in other languages."



  12. Links 19/8/2019: Another Linux 5.3 RC, OpenSUSE's Richard Brown Steps Down, Slackware Creates Patreon Page, Qt 6 Initiated

    Links for the day



  13. Speaking Truth to Monopolies (or How to Write Guest Posts in Techrights)

    We need to have more articles tackling the passage of all power — especially when it comes to software — to few large monopolies that disregard human rights or actively participate in their abolishment in the digital realm



  14. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Free as in Speech

    "While a new breed of so-called anarchists campaign against expression that even the state allows, people are also foolishly overplaying the relevance of the state to free speech issues -- as if it's not a freedom issue when a project is increasingly thought-policed, because the thought-policing isn't on a state level."



  15. Toxic Culture at Microsoft

    Racism, intolerance, sexism and bullying are rampant at Microsoft; but Microsoft would rather deflect/divert/sidetrack to Google and so-called 'GAFA'



  16. Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic: Introduction

    "The FSF isn't just threatened, it will hit a large iceberg in the future that changes it permanently."



  17. Linux Journal and Linux.com Should Have Been Kept Going

    There's apparently no good explanation for the effective shutdown of Linux Journal and Linux.com; London Trust Media Holdings (LTMH), owner of Linux Journal, saw numbers improving and the Linux Foundation, steward of Linux.com, is loaded with money



  18. 2019 Microsoft Glossary

    How Microsoft internally interprets words that it is saying to the public and to the press



  19. 2019 Surveillance Glossary

    Distortion of technical and nontechnical terms in this day and age of '1984'



  20. Openwashing Report: It's Getting Worse, Fast. Everything is Apparently 'Open' Now Even Though It's Actually Proprietary.

    The latest examples (this past week's) of openwashing in the media, ranging from 5G to surveillance



  21. GitHub is a Dagger Inside Free/Open Source Software (FOSS); This is Why Microsoft Bought It

    A year later it seems pretty evident that Microsoft doesn’t like FOSS but is merely trying to control it, e.g. by buying millions of FOSS projects/repositories at the platform level (the above is what the Linux Foundation‘s Jim Zemlin said to Microsoft at their event while antitrust regulators were still assessing the proposed takeover)



  22. Microsoft Grows Within and Eats You From the Inside

    Microsoft entryism and other subversive tactics continue to threaten and sometimes successfully undermine the competition; Microsoft is nowadays doing that to core projects in the Free/Open Source software world



  23. Links 18/8/2019: New KNOPPIX and Emmabuntus Released

    Links for the day



  24. Links 17/8/2019: Unigine 2.9 and Git 2.23

    Links for the day



  25. Computer-Generated Patent Applications Show That Patents and Innovations Are Very Different Things

    The 'cheapening' of the concept of 'inventor' (or 'invention') undermines the whole foundation/basis of the patent system and deep inside patent law firms know it



  26. Concerns About IBM's Commitment to OpenSource.com After the Fall of Linux.com and Linux Journal

    The Web site OpenSource.com is over two decades old; in its current form it's about a decade old and it contains plenty of good articles, but will IBM think so too and, if so, will investment in the site carry on?



  27. Electronic Frontier Foundation Makes a Mistake by Giving Award to Microsoft Surveillance Person

    At age 30 (almost) the Electronic Frontier Foundation still campaigns for privacy; so why does it grant awards to enemies of privacy?



  28. Caturdays and Sundays at Techrights Will Get Busier

    Our plan to spend the weekends writing more articles about Software Freedom; it seems like a high-priority issue



  29. Why Techrights Doesn't Do Social Control Media

    Being managed and censored by platform owners (sometimes their shareholders) isn’t an alluring proposition when a site challenges conformist norms and the status quo; Techrights belongs in a platform of its own



  30. Patent Prosecution Highways and Examination Highways Are Dooming the EPO

    Speed is not a measure of quality; but today's EPO is just trying to get as much money as possible, as fast as possible (before the whole thing implodes)


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

Recent Posts