Re: Patentability of HTML tags.

Dudley Mills (dudmills@ozemail.com.au)
Mon, 23 Feb 1998 13:36:25 +1100


Message-ID: <34F0E0A9.29D3@ozemail.com.au>
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 1998 13:36:25 +1100
From: Dudley Mills <dudmills@ozemail.com.au>
To: Paul Francis <francis@slab.ntt.co.jp>
CC: www-html@w3.org, www-talk@w3.org
Subject: Re: Patentability of HTML tags.

In reply to Paul Francis <francis@slab.ntt.co.jp>

Hi Paul,

Many thanks for this. Fortunately, I am earning royalties from a US
patent and have been through the loops before. All your comments are
very valuable advice to patent applicants.

The examiners job is simply to try to advise applicants where their
patent applications are weak. It is then up to the inventor to use or
license the invention and prosecute infringers.

I am not surprised to encounter reactionaries. The vast majority of
people are reactionary when faced with a new idea: especially
intellectuals.

Gerald Oskoboiny <gerald@w3.org> may have provided just the information
which will spare me any more torture. He has suggested I look at IDML. I
have yet to find an IDML spec but, not finding a spec on the web, I have
written to Doug Donohoe <donohoe@emerge.com>, one of the team which
developed Identify based on IDML, to find out more.

The little I know about IDML makes it sound very useful in terms of
improving web searchability. It seems that the extremists from the META
Jihad may have destroyed a valuable system.

Kind regards,
Dudley Mills,
30 Hutchison Crescent, Kambah, ACT 2902, Australia.
phone/fax: +61-2-6296-2639
email: dudmills@ozemail.com.au
web: http://www.ozemail.com.au/~dudmills/

> 
> >
> > At the very least the granting of these patents demonstrates that
> > inventions having a special new HTML or SGML tag or element as an
> > essential component are considered patentable by their US Patent
> > Examiners.
> 
> Dudley,
> 
> I don't know if you've been through the US patent process before or
> not, but it is interesting.  From my experience, the patent examiners
> don't really understand the technology.  The first few times I went
> through the process, this surprised and irritated me, though later I
> realized that of course they can't know the technology, given the wide
> range of technologies they have to cover.  Also, they understand
> themselves perfectly well that they don't understand the technology.
> As a result, their procedure (again, speaking from my experience only)
> is to assume that anything that remotely resembles your patent
> application makes it invalid, and force the applicant to argue against
> their rejection.
> 
> What I found was that they initially take a hard stand, but in fact it
> doesn't take much counter-argument to get them to buckle-under and
> grant the patent.
> 
> In any event, after going through this a few times, it became clear to
> me that almost anybody could patent almost anything, and just through
> clever use of terminology or plain obfuscation bowl the poor patent
> examiners over.
> 
> In other words, the fact that somebody has been awarded a patent on
> something by no means means that either 1) there wasn't prior art, or
> 2) the thing wasn't perfectly obvious with anybody reasonably skilled
> in the art or whatever the legal phrase is.
> 
> And what this means is that patents can be and obviously are often
> fought out in courts, at great expense, and usually to the detriment
> of the little guy.  Since it is often the little guy that drives
> inovation, which in turn drives this industry, patents are widely seen
> (often if not usually justifiably) as a hinderance to progress rather
> than the reverse.  For this reason, you should not be surprised at the
> rather hostile reaction to your patent.
> 
> You should also not be surprised if, after you get your patents, at
> considerable expense I'm sure, you don't make a single cent off of
> them.  Unless your lawyers are bigger than those of the companys' you
> hope to liscense to, your patent, weak as it appears to be (based on
> the reaction of this audience), may very well not help you at all.
> 
> PF