Company Claims To Have Patented XML; Plans To Sue Everyone

from the um,-hello,-prior-art dept

Another day, another patent troll. A small firm that has gone through a variety of businesses has just “discovered” an old patent they have that they believe covers XML. The patents in question cover dealing with “data in neutral form.” Of course, there’s a ridiculous amount of prior art on this, not to mention the fact that the earlier patent was filed in 1997, when XML was already pretty far along. This is pretty much the definition of a patent troll. It’s not about innovation (or even inventing something new). It’s about a firm that got a broad patent on a very general idea that never should have been awarded at all. Then, years later, after lots of people are actually innovating around a technology — none of whom are doing so because they got the idea from this patent — the company suddenly steps up with a lawyer and says “pay up, now.”

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Comments on “Company Claims To Have Patented XML; Plans To Sue Everyone”

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Just one guy says:


There will always be people trying to make a fast buck (or pretending they will very soon now) on some kind of weird ideas.

Enforcing a patent on a technology whose birth and development is so well-documented and so well-known since the late ’60? No way.

This is no obscure bit or shared memory or whatever SCO focussed on with his IBM litigation about Linux. This is the whole XML thing dated back to HTML and SGML and back to GML in the late sixties…

Couldn’t it be that they are just looking for some time under the spotlight? Just an advertisement trick?

I would not be worried.

crystalattice (user link) says:

Spank them.

There needs to be a way to punish companies that do this. It’s just like that British company that claimed to own HTML.
If the company truly owned a patent from 1997, then why have they waited nearly 10 years to pursue action on it? It’s no one’s fault but their own if they didn’t know they had it. There should be statue of limitations on IP different from the 20+ years a patent is valid for. For example, you have 5 years to pursue monetary compensation for a patent or other IP. If you haven’t done it by then, then you can’t come, after the fact, claiming you own it if it’s in worldwide use.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Spank them.

What if you didn’t know about the patent abuse for 5 years?

I hold a patent and all of a sudden I’m expected to know what people are doing with it on a global scale? Is there some patent spycam network that I get access to or what?

So to revise your idea and make it more workable, let’s say a year from when you first knew about said abuse. Of course, proof of knowledge is hard to come by, but would be the only fair way to proceed.

M. Spankie says:

Maybe this will help get rid of XML

I’ve never understood why folks like XML anyway. They say it helps make the data more “readable” and self-descriptive. Who’s actually reading the data that doesn’t know what they are looking for? Every program, interface or service I have worked on knows the format of the data it is reading. XML only helps bloat the file(s) and of course make life a little easier on the hackers who get a hold of the files to read…

John (user link) says:

Good for them

Hey as long as the laws continue to permit and even reward this behavior, good for them, I hope they make a killing. It isn’t their fault after all, they are acting within the absurd laws we have overpaid legislators to create. I agree that IP laws are way beyond what intelligent individuals would even consider doing to eachother, but hey, I guess no one in a postiion to DO something about it agrees with me or their constituents, and so it goes, on and on. Same for copyright.

malhombre says:

Re: No Subject Given

The best thing I’ve ever seen in favor of massively rethinking our current IP and copyright laws:

from Monday, September 23, 2002 at

LONDON, England — A bizarre legal battle over a minute’s silence in a recorded song has ended with a six-figure out-of-court settlement.

British composer Mike Batt found himself the subject of a plagiarism action for including the song, “A One Minute Silence,” on an album for his classical rock band The Planets.

He was accused of copying it from a work by the late American composer John Cage, whose 1952 composition “4’33″” was totally silent.


And what the hell can I add to that?

Monkey Joe says:

Re: Re: Re: The real issue...

Small company makes big claims on XML patents
-end snip-

Small company just got a heap of extra hits to its website, its name gets spread around and possibly a few more new clients…
Is this “news” or just a cleverly hidden plug?
Any coverage is good coverage to some…

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