Dave Johnson on open web technologies, social software and software development
Isn't the USPTO supposed to run at least a quick check for prior art before granting a patent? I
guess the answer is no hope the answer is yes because Microsoft has filed for and apparently was awarded a patent on something called a "content syndication platform" for which there is (and was at the time of filing) a giant amount of prior art.
The two key claims on the patent application on the USPTO site seem to be #1:
A system comprising: one or more computer-readable media; computer-readable instructions on the one or more computer-readable media which, when executed, implement: an RSS platform that is configured to receive and process RSS data in one or more formats; and code means configured to enable different types of applications to access RSS data that has been received and processed by the RSS platform.
Sounds like a feed reader, like Net-News-Wire, News-Fire, Feed Bandit , Feed Daemon, PlanetPlanet, Radio Userland, O'Reilly Meercat, etc. etc. All of which existed before Microsoft started prowling around RSS.
And the other is #10:
A system comprising: one or more computer-readable media; a set of APIs embodied on the computer-readable media, the set of APIs comprising one or more methods that enable at least one application to access RSS data that has been processed and stored in a feed store; and wherein said at least one application does not understand an RSS format in which the RSS data was originally embodied.
Now we're talking about a feed parser, which parses all formats of feeds and presents to a programmer in an abstract way. You know, like the Universal Feed Parser, ROME and the Jakarta Feed Parser, which again, all existed well before Microsoft started working with RSS and Atom technologies.
Some of the guys listed on the patent are Microsoft bloggers, so perhaps Sean, Walter and the other Microsoft Team RSS bloggers can explain how Microsoft can claim to have invented the RSS feed reader and RSS feed parser.
Update: Niall Kennedy has posted an excellent In depth analysis of Microsoft's patent claim that explains that the patent has not yet been awarded, digs into each of Microsoft's claims and discusses the prior art.
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