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Re: Official statement from Microsoft concerning CSS, XSL and US Pate nt No. 5,860,073

From: Jan Roland Eriksson <jrexon@newsguy.com>
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 1999 21:15:47 GMT
To: Chris Wilson <cwilso@MICROSOFT.com>
Cc: www-style@w3.org
Message-ID: <36ebe028.1652678836@smtpserver.swip.net>
On Wed, 10 Mar 1999 08:30:09 -0800, you wrote:

>jrexon@newsguy.com [mailto:jrexon@newsguy.com] wrote:
>>And now Chris, you have on certain occasions tried to tell us...

>I have shared my experience with trying to convince people internally that
>fully implementing standards (CSS in particular) is a good thing, yes.

Yes I know that. And I was not trying to show that your work in that
area was wrong, only that things did happen inside MS that was way
outside of your own control.

>>a company that had already tried to "secure their future"...

>Not at all.  Microsoft is a very large company, with many smaller
>sub-companies.  Inter-company communication about pending patents is, among
>most large companies to my knowledge, almost non-existent,

Which indirectly confirms my other statement, that MS already have
excellent rendering code available, in an other department, that will
never be reused where it could do some good in the browser department.

MS-word does have now (and has had for a considerable amount of time)...

Automatic column layout of text
Automatic hyphenation of text
Pixel perfect rendering of fonts to correct size
A very good implementation of the equivalent of "floating"
and "absolute" positioned boxes.

...just to mention a few items that could make a real difference in a
fully recommendation compliant browser from MS.

>You'll note that I've avoided all discussion of the value of the patent
>itself, and not answered any other posts other than Sam Hunting's.

As someone else, who sent a reply directly to me said, we may have a
"clash" between cultures here. I think I can make a solid point of the
fact that here in northern Europe, the act of filing for a patent on
something that has to a large extent been designed by someone else than
the one who is filing, brings up associations to the words "fraud" and
"theft". I'm to some level aware of the fact that it "works a bit
different" in the US.

Still I'm _not_ going to ask MS for a written permission to use CSS or
to try my best to guide others on how to use it. I would also like to
point out that I'm talking for my self on this, and not on the behalf of
"The CSS Pointers Group"

>I'm not in a position to comment on the patent itself; I didn't file it,
>I should not discuss its validity for obvious reasons, and I personally
>have little particular interest in it beyond its application to
>Web standards.

My wish is for MS to take away the formal requirement that says that I
have to "obtain a license" to use CSS technology. Make that an official
statement and the "problem" can be buried for ever.

>I felt it should be made crystal clear that Microsoft wants CSS and
>XSL to continue to be developed as open standards, and that regardless
>of any other applicability of the patent in question, CSS and XSL were
>freely usable.

If that really is the bottom line of this, have MS send out an official
statement to that effect then, in words that could be easily read, even
by people with a limited knowledge of the language.

>I got some agreement that this was the case, and worked
>with our IP lawyers to come up with this statement.
>I hope this statement puts some issues to rest.

As written by you it does, and you have my thanks for that, still I
think the "full body of MS" should make it officially clear too.

And I also want to apologize for the harsh words in my previous post, it
was that "gut reaction of anger" that showed up. Now 24 some hours later
I'm sorry about that.

All the best...

-- 
Jan Roland Eriksson <jrexon@newsguy.com>
Received on Wednesday, 10 March 1999 16:11:53 GMT

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