About Microsoft Patent

Subject: About Microsoft Patent
From: "Didier PH Martin" <martind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 4 Feb 1999 18:28:30 -0500

After reading the patent I think that we are due for a tea party :-)

After reading the patent I noticed that they refer a lot on backbird
material. Let's do a bit of history here. I remember, about 5 years ago
going to a Microsoft multimedia conference where they presented backbird
which is the system under MSN. On one side you have what they call stories
(i.e. content) and on the other side you have content formatter (i.e. style
sheet). You can deduce the rest.

What is interesting about the patent is first the date: January 12 1999!!!!
Secondly it describe a complete publishing system having content separated
from style(yes I did the monk job to read it all and try to understand the
implications (thanx IBM for their patent server). In fact, the impact is not
solely reserved to XSL but also to Dsssl, CSS and even more XML or SGML.
As noted in one of the patent's pages:

Page layouts + Content objects = Displayed pages

On sheet 9 they show the concept of property sets associated to what is
called a style sheet object (the property set is the style sheet object's
content and a style sheet object is interfaced to the external world with a
style sheet object interface, thus it is a COM object), we should remember
that a COM object binary signature is in fact a C++ vtable. Up to now, this
can be challenged by simple jurisprudence (demonstrate that this was
existing before).

The style sheet to content association is described with detail and is
corresponding to CSS resolution mechanism not necessarily specified in W3
specs but from the implementation point of view. This where litigation could
occur because it make sense to implements style sheet to content resolution
the way they describe and can be hard and costly to demonstrate that such
algorithm was existing before.

Mozilla, in its current work in progress, is implemented with an
architecture similar to what is described. Then, legally speaking, Mozilla
in in patent infringement for the style sheet resolution mechanism in its
actual implementation and so is probably Opera (I don't know for sure,
because I do not have access to Opera's sources).

Yep, this has, for sure implications to XSL with FO not as XSL as a
transformation language which is not covered by the patent. I guess this add
more weight to the actual thread about splitting XSL from the formatting
object stuff.

If W3 do not move fast on this, Paul, let's create this manifesto ASAP, get
colleagues signed it ASAP and publish it ASAP. I am voluntary to help you in
this task if you want even this week end. Paul, how do want you us to
proceed, you make a draft and we give you feedback or we all do a part of it
and get a delivery deadline? And to other people who expressed the interest,
I guess now the event push us toward action. What is your proposal for the
next step? I think it should be, like Paul suggested, a manifesto, so let's
move to action. I am ready to do my part. Any voluntaries?

Didier PH Martin

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