XML = F*cked, Firm Plans Cash In on Patent


In what could be far worse than a body blow to the entire web industry, a small company is planning to cash in on a patent on XML. They plan to rob SCO of the coveted Most Hated Company award by knobbling everything from RSS to web services.

Charlotte, N.C-based Scientigo owns two patents (No. 5,842,213 and No. 6,393,426) covering the transfer of "data in neutral forms." These patents, one of which was applied for in 1997, are infringed upon by the data-formatting standard XML, Scientigo executives assert.

This would be *huge* if it is true.


It's too obvious

I'm not even sure how you can patent data as it's just a file format, it's not even a software process, just data representation.

The only upside is XML was documented as far back as 1996 and he didn't file until 1997 so roll that patent up and smoke it as that's the most value it has AFAIK.

This stinks like the old PanIP claims on ecommerce:

The snake was suing little ecommerce web sites and they we're just rolling over and playing dead for $5k settlements or some such as the patent defense could've bankrupted them.

Time for patent and legal reforms to put these extortionists out of business.

The article states they will have tough time enforcing patent

Patent lawyer Bruce Sunstein, a co-founder of Boston-based Bromberg & Sunstein, viewed Scientigo's patents and concluded that the company will have difficulty in enforcing claims over XML.

Sunstein noted that XML is derived from SGML, which dates back to the 1980s. SGML, in turn, is based on computing concepts from the 1960s. If Scientigo's claims were ever litigated, the company would have to address all the prior work on data formats.

"You can wish them good luck if you want, but there is a lot of history this patent will have to deal with, and the fat lady has not finished singing on this one yet," Sunstein said.


Enforcing a patent isn't the issue

What most people don't realize is a patent holder can either sue manufacturers incorporating their technology, or the END USERS of the technology, or BOTH for their license fees. If you just want the money to make a quick buck or build a war chest to ultimately sue a big fish you start by going after the low hanging fruit first, the end users and they don't fight much.

Trust me on this, as I was somewhat in the PanIP mess, that they can rip off small players left and right as the little guys won't shell out the big bucks to defend themselves. Had PanIP not been greedy and trying to extort thousands per license people would've just paid the smaller licensing fees and moved on with life instead of banding together to create a defense fund and bury PanIP.

So who do you target?

That's easy, people using anything with a GPL license that has XML integrated so there's no big company behind it like Microsoft or IBM to swat you like a bug for tortious interference of their business and shredding your patent.

Imagine you get a bill for as little as $100 for a lifetime XML license from the patent holder, would you just pay it or fight it? A few thousand payments a year and he's made a killing.

Personally, I'd tell them to go to hell, but that's just me.

What most people don't

What most people don't realize is a patent holder can either sue manufacturers incorporating their technology, or the END USERS of the technology, or BOTH for their license fees.

I seem to recall a legislative provision that exempts end users from being sued successfully. Of course this does not stop someone from filing.

End Users are WIDE OPEN last I knew

Just read up on the PanIP nonsense as that was just a couple of years ago. Unless this legislation is so cutting edge I've not heard of it, everyone with some offshoot of XML on their web site can be held hostage.

Patents holders can enforce the license against anyone using the technology, always have been able to, it's just that before the internet the infringers were usually harder to locate and therefore not worth the effort.

Check out Peter Zura's article about some recent incidents:

Here's a nice little paper on Patent Trolls:

Is this the same

Is this the same sorta stuff as the problem with gif when Compuserve were going to enforce and everyone went out and made their sites in png?

Yup, similar to Compuserve GIFs

But the Compuserve patent is very specific, and their royalty charges are minor so everyone just keeps using GIFs.

The XML patent isn't specifically for XML, it's broader in scope and an equivalent "PNG" type replacement would still fall under this patent.

A much more detailed interview on Scientigo's claims

is available here with interviews from its top brass. Looks as if their claim could very well be valid but they are not actually looking to "screw the little guy". They are simply tring to figure out what the hell to do in order to monetize it. This company does not strike me as a patent troll from the way they are talking.



XML is actually one technology that I would like to see go away.

It is a solution looking for a problem.

From /.

I had a problem ...
I decided to solve it using xml ...
I now have two problems.

XML is just fine

It's not perfect but then again I would guess you've never spent any time trying to get a bunch of people to agree on a data interchange format before, and it's a heck of a lot easier to deal with than EDI ever was.

I used to sit on big corporate committees way back when in the early 90s bickering over email data exchange and something like XML sure would've made those conversations go over a lot simpler as you would at least start with common ground and the closest we got was MIME types - joy.

xml still sucks


but then again I would guess you've never spent any time trying

your guess is wrong.

so, to make it perfectly clear ...

been there, done that, and xml still sucks...

the big one.

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