ifacethoughts

Microsoft Wants To Own RSS, Actually Not [Updated]

UPDATE: I might not have understood the patent entirely, as Michael points out in the comments. I will get some more information and update the post accordingly.

UPDATE: Did some more reading and found more links that clarify some things. There are in fact two patents around RSS that Microsoft has applied for. The content syndication platform mentioned in this post is about breaking down the feeds into a format that can be accessed and managed by many different types of applications and users. I still did not understand everything, but I was wrong in saying that the patent was on RSS and stand corrected. The patents are on technologies around RSS. Techdirt has a round up.

Yes, Microsoft has applied for a patent on RSS. It says Content Syndication Platform, but mentions Really Simple Syndication (RSS) specifically. However, I think other formats like Atom Syndication Format will also infringe on it, if the patent is awarded. David Berlind has a roundup on this.

It sounds unbelievable! I wish feed formats were already under the sphere of organizations like W3C. It is necessary to keep such technologies apolitical, free of vendor locks and in fact out of the business realm. Such technologies can create an entire industry around them. I wonder what Technorati, Feedburner or even companies like Google have to say about this.

There have been a lot of individuals who have contributed to feed formats. Look at Dave Winer’s Curriculum Vitae and you will find his name across all the RSS entries. Individuals like Sam Ruby have been at the heart of Atom development. There is no way to attribute one company for such participation. Dave calls for denouncing this. I sincerely hope that this patent is not awarded.

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. Rohit said:

    This can’t actually be happening! Somebody better stop Mikrosoft!

  2. Michael said:

    If you actually read the patent, it was applied for in June of 2005, and is not a patent on RSS. They reference the various (already existing at the time) RSS versions and Atom formats. This patent is for a piece of middleware that can interpret feeds in all its forms, and present a unified format to applications.

    RSS is already under the Creative Commons license and is held by Harvard since 2003.

    While on the surface it looks like you did due diligence, it appears you did not. This took me ten minutes of searching.

  3. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    Michael, thanks for clarifying the things. I did get confused by the patent language and probably got driven by reading some stuff elsewhere. I will spend some more time with it and update the post.

  4. Rohit said:

    The microsoft team RSS blog has a reply to all the noise in the blogosphere!
    http://blogs.msdn.com/rssteam/archive/2006/12/23/patent-applications-in-the-rss-space.aspx
    Oh well, I guess we should be a bit more carefull even though it’s Microsoft :).

  5. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    Thanks for the link Rohit. I did “assume” by reading other blogs, my mistake. Well, I am still learning!

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Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
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