February 12, 2004 2:02 PM PST
Microsoft snags XML-related patent
U.S. Patent 6,687,897, granted Feb. 3, is for "XML-based script automation." The method uses the XML (Extensible Markup Language) to combine multiple software scripts, including ones written in different languages, into a single file.
As previously reported, Microsoft and other software makers have applied for hundreds of patents in the United States and elsewhere surrounding new technology based on XML, a widely adopted standard for interchanging data between
Get Up to Speed on...
Get the latest headlines and
company-specific news in our
expanded GUTS section.
"It's not just Microsoft--the major vendors are all trying to figure out what they can give away and what they can commercialize," said Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester Research. "I think the opinion on that changes situationally, day by day or week by week."
Microsoft earlier agreed to freely provide other software makers with the proprietary XML dialects, or schemas, used by its new Office 2003 software. But recent XML-related patent applications in Europe and elsewhere have sparked fears that the company may use patents to lock out competing XML-based applications.
David Kaefer, director of business development at Microsoft, has said the company will license XML-related innovations it patents with a mix of paid and royalty-free licenses, as it has done with other technologies. "It comes down to what offers the best benefits for customers and partners," he said.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lists about 100 issued patents related to XML and more than 500 pending applications, including multiple filings from Microsoft, IBM and other technology giants.