Microsoft Patent [was: License???]

Subject: Microsoft Patent [was: License???]
From: Chris Maden <crism@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 10:22:55 -0500 (EST)
Looking at <URL:;
'5,860,073'.WKU.&OS=PN/5,860,073&RS=PN/5,860,073>, I am struck by a
few things.  I can't quite get a clear reading on the legal section,
but the non-normative prose descriptions were telling:

   Unfortunately, all of the formatting commands for text or graphics
   in an SGML or HTML document are embedded within the document. The
   Mosaic or NetScape browsers do not reformat these tagged documents,
   but rather only display the commands embedded in the SGML or HTML
   documents to a user. For this reason, the designers that produce
   the SGML and HTML documents must add formatting commands to every
   new document. In addition, there is little flexibility to change
   the document's formatting once the tagged document has been
   produced. Therefore, the process of creating documents for display
   using SGML or HTML is very inefficient for the document designer.

This shows a severe lack of understanding of prior art, to put it
mildly (despite their reference to 5,557,722, De Rose et al.,
describing DynaText's stylesheet system).  This is further
demonstrated by a number of comments like:

   Presently known style sheets, such as those used in Microsoft Word,
   are associated with particular documents.

Word works that way, but no known semantic markup system does.  (I
mean, at *some point* you have to introduce an association, since
otherwise the document can't be formatted, but this is true for CSS
and XSL as much as any other system.)

The Microsoft system is described thusly:

   The display regions in a page do not contain any text at the time
   the style sheet is applied. Rather, the text is poured into the
   region when the title is displayed (also termed rendered) on the
   customer's computer.  More than one display region, on the same
   page or on different pages within a title, may use the same style
   sheet. A title may also contain more than one style sheet, and the
   publisher is free to associate each display region on the page with
   any particular style sheet in the title. Additionally, style sheets
   can be shared between titles.

I fail to see how this doesn't describe the process described by
International Standard ISO/IEC 10179:1996 (DSSSL).  Can one really
patent techniques described in a Standard?  I can understand specific
computational algorithms pioneered to implement them, but to my
reading, this patent covers the process.

I got sick trying to read further on, when the Multimedia Presentation
System (MSP) is described as ideally using MSN and OCX technology.

A patent is not supposed to be granted to technology that would be
obvious to anyone with experience in the field in question.  This
seems not only obvious, but already implemented by other companies.
This looks like a Patent Office goof on the scale of granting a patent
for "multimedia", defined as the combination of text and images in a
single document.  I would hope that the Patent Office will rescind the
patent, or barring that, that Microsoft grants a free and clear
license to materials covered by this patent to any and all without

 I am not a lawyer and I do not speak for O'Reilly, the XSL WG, the
 W3C, NASA, Microsoft, the CIA, or the voices in my head.
<!ENTITY crism PUBLIC "-//O'Reilly//NONSGML Christopher R. Maden//EN"
"<URL> <TEL>+1.617.499.7487
<USMAIL>90 Sherman Street, Cambridge, MA 02140 USA" NDATA SGML.Geek>

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