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RE: Official statement from Microsoft concerning CSS, XSL and US Patent No. 5,860,073

From: <marnellm@portia.portia.com>
Date: Tue, 9 Mar 1999 23:06:31 -0500 (EST)
To: Chris Wilson <cwilso@MICROSOFT.com>
cc: "'jrexon@newsguy.com'" <jrexon@newsguy.com>, "'www-style@w3.org'" <www-style@w3.org>, standards@mercury.projectcool.com
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.04.9903092211480.1065-100000@portia.portia.com>

The statement and this post are a "no-op", meaning a lot of electrons
passing to no affect.  If the patent stands against CSS/XSL in the US, and
anyone developing to them has to "license" to them, they have to watch
their backs, even with companies such as Sun and Adobe offering bounties
for well designed XSL implementations.

This is a nail in the CSS/XSL coffin, many more of which could shore up
their fate, within the US.  Any time you have to throw IP and patent
attorneys into the mix, nobody but IP and patent attorneys benefit, and
don't tell me for a second that just because Chris Wilson posts a note
with the help of MS IP attorneys to the net that the companies affected
that can afford it aren't going to run it past their attorneys and the
ones who can't are either going to worry that some lumbering giant might
not come along and try to take their work away.

And, unless the patent is put in the public domain, the big companies with
their own patents to use as leverage won't worry, because, whether the
patent is worthwhile or not, it's easier for them to trade than to
challenge it, and the companies that don't have patents to trade worry
that despite what that nice Chris Wilson and his IP attorneys say, should
MS choose to persue someone for patent infringement, and it happens to be
a small operator, the small operator may beat it out in court, but the
small operator is likely to loose his shirt defending it.

So, your posts, to a large extent, are wasted electrons, when taking the
company you keep into consideration.  And considering some of the other
fuzzy patents that have been awarded to a certain company based in Redmond
that appear to be against other web technologies, not that they're the
only or biggest offender in this regard.

The long and the short of it, and the reason behind the post, is don't
insult the people on this forum with feeble attempts to defend MS's
position WRT this patent, and discuss what the patent patents, ostensibly
CSS/XSL, until someone else can come up with a different scheme that
definitely won't infringe on this patent, and puts it into the public
domain, and we can all move toward that.  Perhaps something like
SGML/DSSSL.

Matt

On Wed, 10 Mar 1999, Chris Wilson wrote:

> jrexon@newsguy.com [mailto:jrexon@newsguy.com] wrote:
> >And now Chris, you have on certain occasions tried to tell us all that
> >you had "such a hard time to sell internally" the idea of MS to really
> >go into acceptance of CSS support in their browsers as the next route?
> 
> I have shared my experience with trying to convince people internally that
> fully implementing standards (CSS in particular) is a good thing, yes.  I
> don't think anyone in Microsoft has ever suggested (to me) that ANY CSS
> support is a bad idea.
> 
> >All of a sudden we find out that MS filed for this patent already back
> >in 1995 and it's been just standard burocracy delays that made it come
> >through just now.
> >
> >Hmm.. let's see now. In 1995 you where not that "old in employment"
> >right? You did not have that much influence on MS browser development
> >either at that time (if MS even had a browser then, which I doubt) My
> >own English/American WinNT4ws CD from the very first release in late
> >1996 has MSIE2 on it.
> 
> I came to work for Microsoft in July of 1995.  I switched over to the IE
> team in October of 1995.  IE 2.0 was released very late in 1995 (I seem to
> recall November or December, but I had little to do with that release) - IE
> 1.0 was released as part of the Windows 95 Plus pack, which was released in
> mid-1995 coincident with Windows 95.
> 
> >Someone inside MS has fooled you all over Chris, this patent application
> >went in "above your head" and then you have of course been "fighting" to
> >get CSS into a company that had already tried to "secure their future"
> >in that very same area, phui...
> 
> 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, as it would
> threaten the patent.  None of the people whose names are on that patent are
> on the IE team; in fact, I have only met one of them, and him only briefly.
> This was as great a surprise to my management as it was to myself.
> 
> 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.  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.  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.  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.
> 
> -Chris Wilson
> 
Received on Wednesday, 10 March 1999 23:09:14 GMT

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