Is there a patent on XML itself?

Discussion in 'XML' started by Grant Robertson, Mar 31, 2007.

  1. If the W3C created the XML standard, did they apply for a patent on it?
    The only thing I can find on the W3C site is their policy about freely
    licensing any patented technology related to a standard.

    I know all about Microsoft trying to patent every possible thing you
    could do with an XML file. I don't really want to go off on that tangent.
    Right now, I am just trying to figure out if there is a patent on the XML
    standard itself and, if so, who owns it.
    Grant Robertson, Mar 31, 2007
    #1
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  2. Grant Robertson

    Peter Flynn Guest

    Grant Robertson wrote:
    > If the W3C created the XML standard, did they apply for a patent on it?
    > The only thing I can find on the W3C site is their policy about freely
    > licensing any patented technology related to a standard.
    >
    > I know all about Microsoft trying to patent every possible thing you
    > could do with an XML file. I don't really want to go off on that tangent.
    > Right now, I am just trying to figure out if there is a patent on the XML
    > standard itself and, if so, who owns it.


    XML (the concept, ie the standard) is neither software nor hardware, and
    as far as I know it is therefore not patentable. I know that won't stop
    the USPO allowing someone to patent it, but we'll cross that bridge when
    we come to it.

    ///Peter
    --
    XML FAQ: http://xml.silmaril.ie/
    Peter Flynn, Apr 1, 2007
    #2
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  3. In article <>,
    says...
    > XML (the concept, ie the standard) is neither software nor hardware, and
    > as far as I know it is therefore not patentable. I know that won't stop
    > the USPO allowing someone to patent it, but we'll cross that bridge when
    > we come to it.


    The Open Document Format standard is neither software or hardware and it
    has a patent. So does Dell's business process. There is no requirement
    that something be software or hardware for there to be a patent.

    I'm not looking for arguments or speculation as to whether it logically
    should or should not have a patent. I just want to know if anyone knows
    for sure whether it does or does not have a patent.

    Thank you.
    Grant Robertson, Apr 1, 2007
    #3
  4. Grant Robertson

    Peter Flynn Guest

    Grant Robertson wrote:
    > In article <>,
    > says...
    >> XML (the concept, ie the standard) is neither software nor hardware, and
    >> as far as I know it is therefore not patentable. I know that won't stop
    >> the USPO allowing someone to patent it, but we'll cross that bridge when
    >> we come to it.

    >
    > The Open Document Format standard is neither software or hardware and it
    > has a patent. So does Dell's business process. There is no requirement
    > that something be software or hardware for there to be a patent.


    Sorry, my fault: I was just doing something else with software patents
    when I read the post, and I meant XML is not patentable as a piece of
    software. You can indeed patent anything you like in the USA, regardless
    of whether it makes sense to or not. Patents can also be used
    defensively, to prevent others less scrupulous from patenting ideas not
    theirs.

    > I'm not looking for arguments or speculation as to whether it logically
    > should or should not have a patent. I just want to know if anyone knows
    > for sure whether it does or does not have a patent.


    I've never heard of one, but in the current circumstances I don't think
    anyone is in a position to certify that it does or does not have a patent.

    ///Peter
    Peter Flynn, Apr 1, 2007
    #4
  5. In article <>,
    says...
    > I meant XML is not patentable as a piece of
    > software. You can indeed patent anything you like in the USA, regardless
    > of whether it makes sense to or not. Patents can also be used
    > defensively, to prevent others less scrupulous from patenting ideas not
    > theirs.


    That is the very reason I am asking. I am inventing an XML standard and
    am trying to decide if I should go to the trouble and expense of
    patenting it. My main reason for doing so would be to prevent the likes
    of Microsoft from "embracing and extending" my standard in order to kill
    it or steal it.

    > I've never heard of one, but in the current circumstances I don't think
    > anyone is in a position to certify that it does or does not have a patent.


    Thanks for the info. Something tells me that there wouldn't be such a
    brouhaha over who owns patents to XML if W3C had crafted a well designed
    patent when they first invented XML years ago.
    Grant Robertson, Apr 1, 2007
    #5
  6. Grant Robertson

    Simon Brooke Guest

    in message <>, Grant Robertson
    ('') wrote:

    > In article <>,
    > says...
    >> I meant XML is not patentable as a piece of
    >> software. You can indeed patent anything you like in the USA, regardless
    >> of whether it makes sense to or not. Patents can also be used
    >> defensively, to prevent others less scrupulous from patenting ideas not
    >> theirs.

    >
    > That is the very reason I am asking. I am inventing an XML standard and
    > am trying to decide if I should go to the trouble and expense of
    > patenting it.


    Absolutely not - in your own interest. Before the Web, there were dozens of
    perfectly good distributed hypertext systems. Only problem - they were all
    proprietary and so none of them got traction. If you overprotect
    your 'invention', no-one will use it.

    People think Tim Berners Lee was foolish for 'giving away' the Web. But all
    the inventors of the Web's predecessors are now marginal or out of
    business all together, whereas Sir Tim has his knighthood, a great deal of
    respect and influence in the community, and a very nice salary, thank you.

    It's better to have a little bit of something very big than the whole of
    something very small.

    > My main reason for doing so would be to prevent the likes
    > of Microsoft from "embracing and extending" my standard in order to kill
    > it or steal it.


    They'll only try if it gets traction - and if you patent it it will never
    get traction.

    > Thanks for the info. Something tells me that there wouldn't be such a
    > brouhaha over who owns patents to XML if W3C had crafted a well designed
    > patent when they first invented XML years ago.


    But no-one would be using XML if they had. XML is only a prolix syntax for
    S-Expressions, and S-Expressions, though very flexible, are not the only
    flexible expression of data. If XML were encumbered with patents, we'd all
    be using something different.

    --
    (Simon Brooke) http://www.jasmine.org.uk/~simon/

    IMHO, there aren't enough committed Christians, but that's care
    in the community for you. -- Ben Evans
    Simon Brooke, Apr 2, 2007
    #6
  7. In article <>,
    says...
    > in message <>, Grant Robertson
    > ('') wrote:
    > > I am inventing an XML standard and
    > > am trying to decide if I should go to the trouble and expense of
    > > patenting it.

    >
    > Absolutely not - in your own interest. Before the Web, there were dozens of
    > perfectly good distributed hypertext systems. Only problem - they were all
    > proprietary and so none of them got traction. If you overprotect
    > your 'invention', no-one will use it.


    I'm sorry, I didn't mention that I also intend to license the standard
    freely in accordance with the W3C's patent policy. The only restriction I
    would place on the license would be that no one could extend the standard
    without going through the standards body. No one would be allowed to
    "embrace and extend" for proprietary purposes as Microsoft is fond of
    doing.

    Here are some articles that deal with the issue of patents and standards:

    http://www-03.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/page/BobSutor?
    entry=grading_open_standards_what_does

    http://stephesblog.blogs.com/my_weblog/2005/09/open_standards_.html


    I agree that HTML probably wouldn't have taken off like it did if there
    were restrictions on how it could be extended. But then HTML was pretty
    simple and rather lame back then. Most people had never heard of a markup
    language at the time. That was then, this is now. Markup languages are
    big business and there are lots of sharks and submarines in the waters
    looking to score big by claiming rights to something that isn't properly
    protected. The Open Document Format standard is patented by Sun with a
    free license and most of the rest of the world is working on adopting it.
    But since it is protected, Microsoft can't "embrace and extend" it so
    they have to resort to issuing a competing standard that no one is paying
    attention to.

    So, I believe the factors that currently foster adoption are:

    1) Free, as in beer.

    2) Flexibility.

    3) Controlled by an independent, non-commercial standards body.

    4) Protected from unauthorized, proprietary "extension."


    > People think Tim Berners Lee was foolish for 'giving away' the Web. But all
    > the inventors of the Web's predecessors are now marginal or out of
    > business all together, whereas Sir Tim has his knighthood, a great deal of
    > respect and influence in the community, and a very nice salary, thank you.


    Exactly. I keep telling my friends that Linus Torvolds hasn't made a
    penny from licensing Linux, but he always has a job. Now, whether Linux
    is patented or not, I don't know. So it may be a bad analogy.


    > It's better to have a little bit of something very big than the whole of
    > something very small.


    Also, what I have said many times. All I want is to earn a modest salary
    as an employee of the non-profit promoting the standard. You know the W3C
    is not an all volunteer operation, after all.


    > They'll only try if it gets traction - and if you patent it it will never
    > get traction.
    >
    > > Thanks for the info. Something tells me that there wouldn't be such a
    > > brouhaha over who owns patents to XML if W3C had crafted a well designed
    > > patent when they first invented XML years ago.

    >
    > But no-one would be using XML if they had. XML is only a prolix syntax for
    > S-Expressions, and S-Expressions, though very flexible, are not the only
    > flexible expression of data. If XML were encumbered with patents, we'd all
    > be using something different.


    I don't agree with that logic but that is just my opinion. Crayola
    patented their crayons but you can still draw lots of pretty pictures
    with them. If the patents are licensed for free, with no restrictions on
    how the technology can be used, then there is nothing stopping anyone
    from building new patents based on the technology, or just making up new
    inventions or standards based on the other patent and never patenting
    that new part. Just as there is nothing stopping anyone from extending an
    unpatented, prior-art and patenting the extension or improvement. Almost
    no patents are on entirely new things with no prior art. The patent only
    covers what is new and different. If the owner of the new patent wants to
    do anything with their new technology then they must have rights to use
    the prior art. This is achieved either through licensing existing patents
    or simply using the unpatented, prior-art for free.

    If I patent my standard, I will be able to license it for free. But I
    will also be able to place restrictions on that license. I can say it is
    free only so long as you don't attempt to "embrace and extend" the
    standard for proprietary purposes. This is the best of both worlds.
    Grant Robertson, Apr 2, 2007
    #7
  8. Grant Robertson

    Simon Brooke Guest

    in message <>, Grant Robertson
    ('') wrote:

    > In article <>,
    > says...
    >
    >> People think Tim Berners Lee was foolish for 'giving away' the Web. But
    >> all the inventors of the Web's predecessors are now marginal or out of
    >> business all together, whereas Sir Tim has his knighthood, a great deal
    >> of respect and influence in the community, and a very nice salary, thank
    >> you.

    >
    > Exactly. I keep telling my friends that Linus Torvolds hasn't made a
    > penny from licensing Linux, but he always has a job. Now, whether Linux
    > is patented or not, I don't know. So it may be a bad analogy.


    Of course it's not. How could it be? It started out as the apolitical son
    of communists in a socialist country deliberately reverse engineering an
    existing system - UN*X. It's now significantly different from UN*X in some
    interesting ways, and some people claim to have patents on many parts of
    it (see for example the ongoing IBM/SCO/Novell litigation). None of these
    can or will stop Linux.

    >> > Thanks for the info. Something tells me that there wouldn't be such a
    >> > brouhaha over who owns patents to XML if W3C had crafted a well
    >> > designed patent when they first invented XML years ago.

    >>
    >> But no-one would be using XML if they had. XML is only a prolix syntax
    >> for S-Expressions, and S-Expressions, though very flexible, are not the
    >> only flexible expression of data. If XML were encumbered with patents,
    >> we'd all be using something different.

    >
    > I don't agree with that logic but that is just my opinion. Crayola
    > patented their crayons but you can still draw lots of pretty pictures
    > with them.


    And you can buy other crayons from other people. A crayon is not a
    standard. A standard is something used by a community of independent and
    in many cases competing and even hostile bodies in order to allow them to
    interact; consequently, a standard does not work unless it has effective
    monopoly. Many standards - even many variations on the same standard
    (RS232) - are equivalent to no standard.

    > If the patents are licensed for free, with no restrictions on
    > how the technology can be used, then there is nothing stopping anyone
    > from building new patents based on the technology, or just making up new
    > inventions or standards based on the other patent and never patenting
    > that new part. Just as there is nothing stopping anyone from extending an
    > unpatented, prior-art and patenting the extension or improvement. Almost
    > no patents are on entirely new things with no prior art. The patent only
    > covers what is new and different. If the owner of the new patent wants to
    > do anything with their new technology then they must have rights to use
    > the prior art. This is achieved either through licensing existing patents
    > or simply using the unpatented, prior-art for free.
    >
    > If I patent my standard, I will be able to license it for free. But I
    > will also be able to place restrictions on that license. I can say it is
    > free only so long as you don't attempt to "embrace and extend" the
    > standard for proprietary purposes. This is the best of both worlds.


    I think you are deluding yourself. In most of the world, software patents
    are illegal anyway (as they should be). In the US, where they're not
    illegal, as you yourself say the people likely to 'embrace and extend' a
    successful standard are Microsoft. Do you think you could afford a battle
    with Microsoft in the US courts? How many billion dollars could you
    personally afford to pay your lawyers?

    --
    (Simon Brooke) http://www.jasmine.org.uk/~simon/
    "This young man has not the faintest idea how socialists think and does
    not begin to understand the mentality of the party he has been elected
    to lead. He is quite simply a liberal"
    -- Ken Coates MEP (Lab) of Tony Blair
    Simon Brooke, Apr 3, 2007
    #8
  9. In article <>,
    says...
    > I think you are deluding yourself. In most of the world, software patents
    > are illegal anyway (as they should be). In the US, where they're not
    > illegal, as you yourself say the people likely to 'embrace and extend' a
    > successful standard are Microsoft. Do you think you could afford a battle
    > with Microsoft in the US courts? How many billion dollars could you
    > personally afford to pay your lawyers?
    >


    Technically, this wouldn't be a software patent. It would be a process
    patent. If patents on standards were worthless, do you think Sun would
    have patented Open Document Format? Perhaps. Big companies patent how
    many steps it took to get down the hall today, just in case.

    I wouldn't battle Microsoft in the courts. I would battle them in the
    public press. I would shame Bill Gates for trying to monopolize education
    and profit from the suffering of the poor. I would also write his wife a
    letter asking her to appeal to what little conscience he has left.

    Besides, are you saying that I should never try to protect intellectual
    property just because someone like Bill Gates could steal it if they
    wanted to? If that were the case then we might as well just stop
    inventing anything and let Microsoft and IBM do it all.

    If I don't protect the standard then I will have more than Microsoft to
    deal with. I will then have to deal with every shyster with a lawyer
    trying to horn in on my invention.

    I want to give it away for free. But, in order to do that, I have to
    ensure that it will stay free.
    Grant Robertson, Apr 4, 2007
    #9
  10. Grant Robertson

    gg Guest

    but is a published process like the xml standard patentable?
    "Grant Robertson" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > In article <>,
    > says...
    > > I think you are deluding yourself. In most of the world, software

    patents
    > > are illegal anyway (as they should be). In the US, where they're not
    > > illegal, as you yourself say the people likely to 'embrace and extend' a
    > > successful standard are Microsoft. Do you think you could afford a

    battle
    > > with Microsoft in the US courts? How many billion dollars could you
    > > personally afford to pay your lawyers?
    > >

    >
    > Technically, this wouldn't be a software patent. It would be a process
    > patent. If patents on standards were worthless, do you think Sun would
    > have patented Open Document Format? Perhaps. Big companies patent how
    > many steps it took to get down the hall today, just in case.
    >
    > I wouldn't battle Microsoft in the courts. I would battle them in the
    > public press. I would shame Bill Gates for trying to monopolize education
    > and profit from the suffering of the poor. I would also write his wife a
    > letter asking her to appeal to what little conscience he has left.
    >
    > Besides, are you saying that I should never try to protect intellectual
    > property just because someone like Bill Gates could steal it if they
    > wanted to? If that were the case then we might as well just stop
    > inventing anything and let Microsoft and IBM do it all.
    >
    > If I don't protect the standard then I will have more than Microsoft to
    > deal with. I will then have to deal with every shyster with a lawyer
    > trying to horn in on my invention.
    >
    > I want to give it away for free. But, in order to do that, I have to
    > ensure that it will stay free.
    gg, Apr 4, 2007
    #10
  11. Grant Robertson

    Simon Brooke Guest

    in message <>, Grant Robertson
    ('') wrote:

    > I want to give it away for free. But, in order to do that, I have to
    > ensure that it will stay free.


    Seriously, if you want that, the solution is one of:

    The GPL <URL:http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html> - not designed for this
    sort of thing, but with real legal teeth.

    GNU Free Documentation License <URL:http://www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl.html> -
    designed for this sort of thing, and with the firepower of the FSF behind
    it.

    Creative Commons <URL:http://creativecommons.org/> - pick-n-mix licensing
    which should do more or less what you want but legally less tested.

    --
    (Simon Brooke) http://www.jasmine.org.uk/~simon/

    ;; Usenet: like distance learning without the learning.
    Simon Brooke, Apr 4, 2007
    #11
  12. In article <>,
    says...
    > in message <>, Grant Robertson
    > ('') wrote:
    >
    > > I want to give it away for free. But, in order to do that, I have to
    > > ensure that it will stay free.

    >
    > Seriously, if you want that, the solution is one of:
    >
    > The GPL <URL:http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html> - not designed for this
    > sort of thing, but with real legal teeth.


    I have been considering this. I haven't had time to really study either
    GPL v2 or GPL v3 to see if it would really meet my needs. Remember, a
    standard is not code. So many aspects of GPL would not apply


    > GNU Free Documentation License <URL:http://www.gnu.org/licenses/fdl.html> -
    > designed for this sort of thing, and with the firepower of the FSF behind
    > it.
    > Creative Commons <URL:http://creativecommons.org/> - pick-n-mix licensing
    > which should do more or less what you want but legally less tested.


    Nor is a standard simple documentation. Neither of these would apply. I
    have been told by an IP expert that copyright only protects the text of
    the code not the algorithm. In this case, it would only protect the text
    of the documentation of the standard, not the ideas and principles of the
    standard.
    Grant Robertson, Apr 4, 2007
    #12
  13. In article <>,
    says...
    > in message <>, Grant Robertson
    > ('') wrote:
    >
    > > I want to give it away for free. But, in order to do that, I have to
    > > ensure that it will stay free.

    >
    > Seriously, if you want that, the solution is one of:
    >
    > The GPL <URL:http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html> - not designed for this
    > sort of thing, but with real legal teeth.


    I finally found a great reference about this issue, and it supports your
    suggestions. Take a look at...

    http://lists.xml.org/archives/xml-dev/200108/pdf00000.pdf

    ....paying particular attention to section V.D. starting on page 9. This
    paper specifically addresses my concerns about as exactly as if I had
    written them myself. The paper is written as a report from an XML.org
    working group called Legal-XML which was formed to create XML standards
    for the transmission of legal documents. Heck, if those guys don't know
    about protecting the intellectual property of XML standards then no one
    does.

    So, I guess this about settles it. My notion of patenting the standard,
    though legally possible, was unnecessary. It appears that *a* GPL will do
    just fine. I don't know if the GNU GPL will exactly meet my needs but at
    least I now know I won't have to go to the expense of getting a patent.

    Thanks for all your suggestions and patience. Many get pretty religious
    on this issue and won't take the time to explain themselves civilly.
    Grant Robertson, Apr 5, 2007
    #13
  14. Grant Robertson

    Simon Brooke Guest

    in message <>, Grant Robertson
    ('') wrote:

    > In article <>,
    > says...
    >> in message <>, Grant
    >> Robertson ('') wrote:
    >>
    >> > I want to give it away for free. But, in order to do that, I have to
    >> > ensure that it will stay free.

    >>
    >> Seriously, if you want that, the solution is one of:
    >>
    >> The GPL <URL:http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html> - not designed for
    >> this sort of thing, but with real legal teeth.

    >
    > I finally found a great reference about this issue, and it supports your
    > suggestions. Take a look at...
    >
    > http://lists.xml.org/archives/xml-dev/200108/pdf00000.pdf
    >
    > ...paying particular attention to section V.D. starting on page 9. This
    > paper specifically addresses my concerns about as exactly as if I had
    > written them myself. The paper is written as a report from an XML.org
    > working group called Legal-XML which was formed to create XML standards
    > for the transmission of legal documents. Heck, if those guys don't know
    > about protecting the intellectual property of XML standards then no one
    > does.
    >
    > So, I guess this about settles it. My notion of patenting the standard,
    > though legally possible, was unnecessary. It appears that *a* GPL will do
    > just fine. I don't know if the GNU GPL will exactly meet my needs but at
    > least I now know I won't have to go to the expense of getting a patent.


    There is only one GPL - the G stands for 'GNU', which in turn stands
    for 'Gnu is Not UNIX'. There are, however, different versions of the GPL.
    V2 is the one in common current use and is so legally fierce that no-one
    has yet dared seriously challenge it in court. V3 is currently in draft
    and promises to be even fiercer.

    FWIW I release all the code I make my living from under GPL V2.

    --
    (Simon Brooke) http://www.jasmine.org.uk/~simon/

    There are no messages. The above is just a random stream of
    bytes. Any opinion or meaning you find in it is your own creation.
    Simon Brooke, Apr 5, 2007
    #14
  15. In article <>,
    Simon Brooke <> wrote:

    >> I want to give it away for free. But, in order to do that, I have to
    >> ensure that it will stay free.


    >Seriously, if you want that, the solution is one of:
    >
    >The GPL <URL:http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html> - not designed for this
    >sort of thing, but with real legal teeth.


    Regardless of whether the GPL is appropriate for protecting a
    specification, the OP apparently wants to prevent others from
    extending his work, which is contrary to the spirit of the GPL. While
    I sympathise with the aim of preventing the likes of Microsoft from
    "embracing and extending", doing this by restricting what ordinary
    users can do would certainly put me off using it.

    A less extreme approach is to have the definition require that
    non-conformant documents not be accepted. This is what XML does, so
    that (for example) an extension that allowed </> end tags would not be
    able to claim conformance with the XML specification.

    -- Richard
    --
    "Consideration shall be given to the need for as many as 32 characters
    in some alphabets" - X3.4, 1963.
    Richard Tobin, Apr 5, 2007
    #15
  16. In article <>,
    says...
    > There is only one GPL - the G stands for 'GNU', which in turn stands
    > for 'Gnu is Not UNIX'. There are, however, different versions of the GPL.
    > V2 is the one in common current use and is so legally fierce that no-one
    > has yet dared seriously challenge it in court. V3 is currently in draft
    > and promises to be even fiercer.


    I figured out that every one refers to "The General Public License" as if
    it were the only general public license, so I guess that term has become
    a de facto name for the "GNU General Public License." So the "G" in
    "GPL" stands for "General" not "GNU." The "G" in "GNU" stands for GNU. If
    you don't believe me just check out www.gnu.org. Anyway that is a minor
    point.

    I have also been doing a lot of research lately. Many commentators,
    especially lawyers in the software licensing field working FOR open
    source causes, seem to feel that all of the open source licenses (to use
    the more general term) are on a bit of shaky ground exactly because the
    concept has never been tested in court. The shrink-wrap licenses have
    been upheld in court but that may be because they are on paper and the
    software installation disk is a physical object. Enforcing a license
    against someone who never entered into a legal contract just because they
    modified some code hasn't been tested as far as I could find. If you have
    some case law to cite I would love to see it. Keep in mind, I am not
    arguing against open source licensing. I am just saying it may or may not
    have as many teeth as advocates give it credit for.

    After having read through a couple dozen licenses, the GPL does not seem
    to be nearly as accurate of a legal document as many others I have seen.
    Precise legal phrasing is there for a reason, just like clean coding
    practices are there for a reason. Even if it looks the same to non-
    professionals, it may not work out as well in the end. With all the non-
    precise language and excessive explanations and examples in the GPL, they
    have actually left MORE room for misinterpretation. That is just the way
    it works with legal documents. No, I am not a lawyer, but I have heard
    and read this point explained by many lawyers.

    I personally suspect that the major companies like Microsoft haven't
    directly challenged the GPL or any other open source license because they
    fear it would invalidate their shrink-wrap licenses. After all, no one
    signed anything and people really just made up the idea of claiming that
    someone entered into a contract just by opening a package. I think they
    made it up hoping it would get traction just from common use. Eventually
    it did but, in the beginning, many doubted their legitimacy.

    It would probably be better if there were a legal challenge to the GPL.
    Then the open source community would either have set a precedent, if GPL
    won, or learned what needs to be fixed, if GPL lost. I don't think a loss
    would kill open source. It would just teach people that they can't just
    make up these licenses will-nilly and expect them to hold up in court.
    They must get real lawyers involved and create legally precise documents.


    > FWIW I release all the code I make my living from under GPL V2.


    Now I know I am going way off topic for this newsgroup but I am curious.
    The money you make from writing that code is that paid to you by a
    company? So, if you are working for a company then it is the company that
    is releasing the software under GPL, correct. So, you are making a living
    just writing code, whether or not that code is profitable. It could be
    that your company is loosing money hand over fist because they haven't
    figured out how to make money using the open source model. Or they are
    making a fortune on support. I don't know. But in that case, you are
    making money from writing code, not from releasing software under GPL.

    On the other hand, if you are working for yourself, could you please tell
    me how you are actually making a living by writing code and giving it
    away. I'm not arguing. I am genuinely curious.

    I suspect that the open source business model can only work for companies
    who are big enough to do the marketing it takes to convince people to pay
    for support. Even Linus Torvolds has to have a job somewhere where
    someone is willing to pay him money to work on Linux. As an individual,
    even he isn't "big" enough to make money releasing code as open source.
    Again, not arguing against. Just making an observation.
    Grant Robertson, Apr 6, 2007
    #16
  17. In article <ev31hf$1mgu$>,
    says...
    > Regardless of whether the GPL is appropriate for protecting a
    > specification, the OP apparently wants to prevent others from
    > extending his work, which is contrary to the spirit of the GPL. While
    > I sympathise with the aim of preventing the likes of Microsoft from
    > "embracing and extending", doing this by restricting what ordinary
    > users can do would certainly put me off using it.


    Actually, I am trying to keep anyone from extending the standard OUTSIDE
    OF THE OFFICIAL STANDARDS PROCESS.

    Please see http://www.opensource.org/osr-rationale on the Open software
    Initiative's web site. About a third of the way down the page you will
    find the following quote.

    "Some seek to burnish the perception of their products or technologies by
    claiming that they implement "open standards" while at the same time
    adding extensions that are not part of the standard. Others go farther,
    claiming that their unique implementations are themselves "open
    standards", a reversal of standards logic. The result is that the
    (usually undefined) term "open standard" has become more of an
    aspirational term than a defining term, a problem that we seek to
    rectify."

    Other documents on their site underscore the importance of ensuring that
    any standard claiming to be "open" must work to ensure that third parties
    can not extend the standard in proprietary ways. Remember, a standard is
    not software. If you add features to software then release it for others
    to use and modify then everyone still has access to the old software. But
    if some big company like MicroSoft fragments a standard by releasing non-
    complying, proprietary software and force feeding that software to the
    public then they can kill the standard.

    So, "ordinary users" can always suggest and work for changes in the
    standard. Just as one can do with all the existing internet standards.
    But they will not be allowed to fragment the standard by releasing non-
    conforming software or content and claiming it is yet another "version"
    of the standard.

    > A less extreme approach is to have the definition require that
    > non-conformant documents not be accepted. This is what XML does, so
    > that (for example) an extension that allowed </> end tags would not be
    > able to claim conformance with the XML specification.


    This is exactly what I plan to do when I design my XML schema.
    Grant Robertson, Apr 6, 2007
    #17
  18. In article <>,
    Grant Robertson <> wrote:

    >> Regardless of whether the GPL is appropriate for protecting a
    >> specification, the OP apparently wants to prevent others from
    >> extending his work, which is contrary to the spirit of the GPL. While
    >> I sympathise with the aim of preventing the likes of Microsoft from
    >> "embracing and extending", doing this by restricting what ordinary
    >> users can do would certainly put me off using it.


    [...]

    >So, "ordinary users" can always suggest and work for changes in the
    >standard. Just as one can do with all the existing internet standards.
    >But they will not be allowed to fragment the standard by releasing non-
    >conforming software or content and claiming it is yet another "version"
    >of the standard.


    Well, you might be able to trademark the name to prevent them from
    claiming that it's a version of it, but I don't think you can - or
    should be able to - stop people from writing software that implements
    extensions to your standard.

    The author of the 1960s programming language TRAC tried to use
    trademark law to control the language, but extended versions were
    produced under different names.

    -- Richard
    --
    "Consideration shall be given to the need for as many as 32 characters
    in some alphabets" - X3.4, 1963.
    Richard Tobin, Apr 6, 2007
    #18
  19. Richard Tobin wrote:
    > Well, you might be able to trademark the name to prevent them from
    > claiming that it's a version of it


    Which is what Sun did with Java; they enforced that against Microsoft
    when the MS version diverged too strongly from the spec.

    If you're serious about seeking legal protection, I ***STRONGLY***
    recommend you pay the money to hire a lawyer to advise you. Free legal
    advice found on the Internet is generally not worth more than you paid
    for it.


    --
    Joe Kesselman / Beware the fury of a patient man. -- John Dryden
    Joseph Kesselman, Apr 6, 2007
    #19
  20. In article <ev56e0$2c9p$>,
    says...
    > Well, you might be able to trademark the name to prevent them from
    > claiming that it's a version of it, but I don't think you can - or
    > should be able to - stop people from writing software that implements
    > extensions to your standard.


    Then you would be indisagreement with the Open Source Initiative and most
    of the experts on the open standards field. Only by protecting a standard
    can it ever be a "standard" at all. Fragmentation is what killed UNIX.
    Linus Torvold's tight rein on what can be considered part of the kernal
    of Linux is what makes it successful.
    Grant Robertson, Apr 6, 2007
    #20
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