Microsoft RSS Framework Patent Applications

Second bit of news picked up from Dave Winer today is that Microsoft have applied to patent certain aspects and implementations of RSS in use.

Dave describes this document as a "patent granted to Microsoft," but I think he misspoke in the heat of the moment. The document in question is an application, filed over a year ago, but only recently published. (According to the USPTO website, this 18-month lag in publishing is entirely normal: "Most patent applications filed on or after November 29, 2000, will be published 18 months after the filing date of the application...")

I read as much of the patent application as I could before my brain leapt out of my skull and attempted to throttle me. It's almost wilfully opaque stuff (written by patent lawyers - go figure).

Seeking insight elsewhere, I found Dave Berlind at ZDNet describing it thus:

"Microsoft has apparently applied to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for a patent on the Really Simple Syndication protocol (RSS)..."

If that were true, it would be a truly scary and insane thing indeed. However, in my attempt to distill meaning from this thing I didn't get the sense that they're actually applying to patent the protocol in anyway.

Thank goodness for Steve Borsch, who has managed to read the whole thing and describes it as:

"...a process patent intended to "own" not the RSS protocol...but most of the ways it will be used."

There's also a related application, here, which appears to describe a browser-based feedreader, as far as I can tell.

Anne Broache has more context and background at ZDNet News.

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