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Re: UML-OWL Generator, A product to convert UML into OWL

From: Bijan Parsia <bparsia@cs.manchester.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 4 May 2009 18:37:08 +0100
Message-Id: <55CD7B99-3A78-4905-A557-D1E3D607FF9B@cs.manchester.ac.uk>
To: Elisa Kendall <ekendall@sandsoft.com>, public-owl-dev@w3.org
On 4 May 2009, at 16:41, Elisa Kendall wrote:

> Hi Bijan,
> I hadn't intended to point this out myself (since I'm assuming the  
> folks who we've been exchanging email with have seen it and don't  
> believe that it is an issue for their work), but thanks.

It was the first think I pointed out, almost :) I'm not sure that  
you'd really want to *thank* me, since I'm not clear what's  
meritorious about your patent.

> We had what we believed were some key insights years ago, confirmed  
> with Grady Booch in fact, that led us to believe that in order to  
> create a "proper" mapping from a UML model to OWL, you needed to  
> understand more about the semantics of the model than might be  
> available from traditional reverse engineering.

I think that for any forward mapping from UML to OWL you can consider:
	The generic semantics of UML (what most of the work on "reasoning  
over UML class diagrams" focus on). I don't see how this is  
legitimately patentable in the context of all the work that exists.
	Trying to capture the "intent" of the diagrams (e.g., via some  
analysis of the labels, using auxiliary ontologies, etc.) I guess I  
could imagine *some* of these being patentable, if they were fairly  
specific. I mean, "Translate to OWL then enhance" just seems too  
broad. Obviously, if you can "enhance" in *some* way or another,  
that'd be good. But I can imagine trying to enhance using NLP on the  
labels and mapping them into wordnet, etc. or looking at code  
instantiations of the model. But again, I'd want the procedure to be  
pretty deterministic and specific.

>  This was early work to tease out some of the issues, including the  
> need for not only a of the language metamodel but an ontology of  
> critical terminology in order to "do the right thing".

I guess I'm still not seeing what's special about the *technique* as  
so described. (Admittedly, the description is pretty sketchy.) I could  
see that the "ontology of critical terminology" might be valuable  
(since, presumably, it'd make or break the translation), but that  
seems to be something for copyright or a trade secret, not a matter of  
patent. I mean, do you think your patent covers *any* use of an  
auxiliary ontology in the translation?

>  We still use this approach in our tools, but have refined it  
> significantly since 2000/2001 when we did the original research, as  
> you might expect.

Is there a readable account, e.g., a whitepaper?

> The approach covers the combination of the methodology and the  
> transformation to OWL (or other things).  It predates ODM  
> substantially, but our current work has been updated to support  
> parts of the standard.

I guess the question is whether one can use ODM without infringing on  
your patent. Or perhaps what one must not do to avoid infringement.

> When we submitted our inputs to ODM (and since, with subsequent  
> updates to the standard), we agreed to license any relevant patents  
> to anyone who was interested at reasonable commercial rates.  That  
> would include the one you found.

Ok, so you selected "RAND" instead of "royalty free". If I wrote an  
XSLT that translated UML diagrams into OWL that is aligned with a  
foundational ontology (something along the lines of <http://www.sfu.ca/~dgasevic/projects/UMLtoOWL/ 
 >) do I need a license?

>  We are also planning to contribute some of the work to an emerging  
> Eclipse project, the Eclipse/MDT project, and hope to get the ODM  
> metamodels, profiles, and APIs out in the Galileo release coming out  
> next month, fyi.  None of those components require a license to our  
> patent from a usage perspective.

You mean that you've licensed to Eclipse the technology so they can  
distribute it? But if someone released a similar project (e.g., for  
NetBeans) they should come to you for a license?

Does TopQuandrent have a license? Does their UML conversion infringe?

Do you think the UML-OWL Generator at least *prima facie* infringes?  
If not, why not?  How about ICOM?

Received on Monday, 4 May 2009 17:37:46 UTC

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