Remember Microsoft’s "Embrace" of XML? [7:34 pm]
The company filed patent applications in New Zealand and the European Union that cover word processing documents stored in the XML (Extensible Markup Language) format. The proposed patent would cover methods for an application other than the original word processor to access data in the document. The U.S. Patent Office had no record of a similar application.
[...] Despite those moves toward openness, the patents could create a barrier to competing software, said Rob Helm, an analyst for research firm Directions on Microsoft.
“This is a direct challenge to software vendors who want to interoperate with Word through XML,” he said. “For example, if Corel wanted to improve WordPerfect’s support of Word by adopting its XML format…for import/export, they’d probably have to license this patent.”
The patents likely wouldn’t immediately affect the open-source software package OpenOffice, which uses different XML techniques to describe a document, Helm said. But they could prevent future versions of OpenOffice and StarOffice, its proprietary sibling, from working with Microsoft’s XML format.