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Company Claims RDF is Patented

 12:17 am on Jan 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

In a rather shocking story [zdnet.com] on ZDNet, a company is claiming that RDF files infringe upon it's patent.

RDF (Resource Description Framework [w3c.org]) files have been used extensively for the last few years in many applications. The most well known RDF file is the Open Directory Project database that is distributed in RDF format.

Another major style of and RDF is the RSS file format [my.netscape.com] that is under going explosive growth. Sites supporting [webmasterworld.com] the RSS format went from a few dozen in early 2001, to over 7,000 by years end.



 1:00 am on Jan 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Did anyone actually read that patent? Good god, what a bunch of gobblygook. I'm sure the patent examiner looked at it, shook his head, and stamped "approved" on it because he didn't have a clue what it meant. Software patents are a travesty that really have to be done with.


 1:47 am on Jan 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

The W3C and the RDF folks don't seem too excited. Write your congressman and tell them to remind the patent office what their job is, they seem to have forgotten. The new head of the patent office is intent on speeding up the rubber stamp.


 2:52 am on Jan 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

More on this at a wiki (heh are we on blogs yet again :)!)


It seems that some legal eagles still see the internet as a gold mine (with apologies to lawman!)


 3:19 am on Jan 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

This has the potential to be a "gif" episode all over again.

Same result?

RSS is perhaps one of the most powerful ways to distribute and generate dynamic content and share it across web sites and desktops, and of late wireless as well. We are great users of it in our own small way. Moreover uses it and the great majority of established news sites like the BBC, Washington Post, CNN, use it. It is becoming standard very fast and very recently in free or open source CMS programs we have discussed recently such as Movable Type, Greymatter, PhpNuke, though i didnt realise how fast it has caught on given Brett's figures above.

An enormous amount of work has gone into developing RDF/RSS, and in applications mainly by independent and open source developers. As usual a non-entity is attempting to ride the wave that others have created. Not a peep from them before, aided by a company whose only raison detre is to litigate on behalf of others and take their 50% cut. How can we get rid of opportunists like this?

The law firm's letters are being received by many developers using RSS in the last 2 days.

This is going to be big.


 4:01 am on Jan 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

And if it is enforcable it will have the same faith as GIF did. Gone. Software is super easy to circumvent. We have TIFF, JPEG, etc. And they are better.

Patents supposed to protect the income of the developer not halt development. Vendors developing pattents to simply block further development is indeed should be an punishable offense.

I am also ticked about the stuff pattent office approves. It used to be that you had to have a high level of engineering degree and indeed you had to prove your device or method was unique.

Now the burden is shifted to the future user. First patent it - no questions asked - then let the sucker who falls on it and use it prove prior use to the patent in court. This method relieves the pattent office from doing ANY research. It falls on the poor sap who tries to use it first.

This is great to save money on the pattent office budget, but extreemely damaging to small inventors. How can I fight P&G on a chemical patent? They are multibillion dollars corporation with a whole division of lawyers. I can't efford to upgrade from DOS 2.11! So I abandon to secure my tested and proven teleportation device that would save the world, because I could not efford the legal fees... (Ok, maybe I do not have a teleportation device, but you get my point.)

I was thinking of pattenting a circular device that facilitiates locomotion.


 4:07 pm on Jan 4, 2002 (gmt 0)

Split off the RSS Feed Talk [webmasterworld.com] over to the Content forum.


 5:28 am on Jan 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Very interesting article on computer related patents [news.cnet.com], including that IBM has released $40 million of their patent portfolio to Open Source.


 6:40 pm on Jan 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

Where would we be without the development work of UFIL Unified Data Technologies? It is through their tireless and selfless efforts to promote open standards like RSS that the web has advanced. When a group like the W3C that is controlled by big business members shameless steals the work of a small Canadian firm that the patent process it at its best - protecting innovation. </sarcasm>


 10:46 pm on Jan 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

There are a couple legal eagles that say they have a good case.

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