It’s fine that Microsoft decided to introduce the term “web feeds” for RSS feeds not so long ago. But in the continuing saga of corporate techno-muscle throwing their brutish weight around, Microsoft has filed for two patents [InformationWeek, Mashable] on RSS. Wait? Did I hear you say RSS was an open format? Did I also hear you say that the current version of RSS 2.0 was frozen for changes? Did I hear you say WTF?
Well in the logic of the corporate world, if Apple can try to hold rights to any word with a lower case “i” in front of it, and RIM thinks that Samsung’s Blackjack will confuse people into thinking it’s their Blackberry, why can’t Microsoft do what it feels like: introducing patents into an area where it’s unwelcome and inappropriate.
Let’s clarify a few things in the InformationWeek article. These patents were filed in 2005 and only just posted on the USPTO site this week. Even Dave Winer, highly credited as driving forced and developer of several versions of RSS, speculated that big bad MSFT may want to charge people who use RSS. Anyone who has a blog or reads is probably aware that the “subscribe to this blog” feature is powered by RSS (or a variant called Atom). If MSFT manages to get away with this (future) travesty, they will make a lot of money. Though how this will affect free blogging platforms such as WordPress is yet to be seen.
Shame on you, Microsoft. Why don’t you do something original? It’s only been five years since your stock was worth wiping my bottom with. Come up with something new instead of becoming a vampire barnacle on the blogosphere. For another ridiculous MSFT patent, see Microsoft patents choosing 7 out of 10 items to display at Techdirt.
I’ve decided to file a patent on the 26 letters of the alphabet. Since the USPTO is staffed by tech-unsavvy idiots who’ll allow patents on public domain “stuff”, I don’t see why they should refuse “means of conveying abstract thoughts using 26 squiggles.”
Shame on you, USPTO. Why don’t you hire people with technical knowledge? As Pete Cashmore points out in his Mashable article, the history of RSS is well-documented online, as a quick peek into the web’s encyclopedia Wikipedia will show. Or you could even try Google Patents.