Microsoft – a wolf in wolf's clothing?

In June 2005 Microsoft announced their support for RSS. At the time it seemed like a good thing that Microsoft were embracing this standard, however, it was Microsoft after all. I should have known there was a more sinister motive behind it.

Today, according to an article in News.com, Microsoft has filed two patent applications covering RSS. The patents were filed in June 2005 but only came to light today.

The first application is for “finding and consuming Web subscriptions in a Web browser” while the second, according to the article is:

titled “content syndication platform,” [and] appears to describe a system that can break down feeds into a format that can be accessed and managed by many different types of applications and users.

Dave Winer is unsurprisingly, unimpressed and says:

Presumably they’re eventually going to charge us to use it. This should be denounced by everyone who has contributed anything to the success of RSS.

Nick Bradbury, of NewsGator takes a more sanguine approach saying:

quite often companies file patents just to protect themselves from lawsuits. There are plenty of sleazebags who file patent applications on obvious ideas, and then wait for someone like Microsoft to infringe those patents. In other words, companies like Microsoft often file patents to prevent having to shell out millions of dollars to predatory lawyers who haven’t invented anything other than a legal pain in the ass.

So, what do you think, is Microsoft’s “evil” reputation is deserved after all? Or is this a sad reflection on the state of US patent law?

9 thoughts on “Microsoft – a wolf in wolf's clothing?”

  1. I’d say it’s more the broken patent system than Microsoft being up to no good. I know for a fact that there are a number of companies who specialise in buying failed start ups with a patent or two if they think they can turn a substantial profit from patent litigation.

    That being said Microsoft could walk on water tomorrow morning and people still wouldn’t give them the benefit of the doubt, I think they’ve reached a size where upon they can no longer play the evil empire even if they wanted to, they’ve just too many balls in the air.

    The same thing happened to IBM in the 70’s. One day you’re terrorising the planet but the next you’re too busy to do that due to all the paperwork and overhead being an industry titan requires.

  2. Don Dodge of Microsfot believes it is the “protect ourselves” approach.

    With Ray Ozzie as CTO, I’d be surprised if this is anything more than making sure the broken US patents system doesn’t end up screwing them.

  3. I know there are major issues with patent laws in the US which is costing companies millions of dollars in lost revenue. Some lunatics in the European parliament (HAHAHA! Sorry, that phrase always makes me laugh) want to introduce a similar system for Europeans. Is there no sanity in this world?

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