OASIS Mailing List ArchivesView the OASIS mailing list archive below
or browse/search using MarkMail.


Help: OASIS Mailing Lists Help | MarkMail Help



   RE: British Telecom owns Hyperlink?

[ Lists Home | Date Index | Thread Index ]
  • From: "Ram Mareddy" <rmareddy@siebel.com>
  • To: "'Dan Mabbutt'" <Seigfried@msn.com>, "Bob Kline" <bkline@rksystems.com>
  • Date: Mon, 26 Jun 2000 15:49:58 -0700

Somebody sent me this ...

BT could face legal action over hyperlink claim 
<a href="http://www.theregister.co.uk">The Register</a>
Posted: 21/06/2000 at 12:55 GMT
BT could face legal action if it pursues its claim over the ownership of

Anger against BT's patent - predominantly in the US where the intellectual
property specialists are currently talking to ISPs over issuing licences -
has flared quicker than hooligans rioting after a game of basketball. 

Some experts quoted in the British press this morning claim BT has a strong
case and could reap millions from US ISPs. 

Ironically, it's an action welcomed by some. Donavon J Pfeiffer Jr told The
Register: "As an American citizen, steeped in greed and raised on profit
motive and litigation, I am hopeful that BT wins this lawsuit. 

"I and my cyberbuddies will then launch a class action suit against BT for
every broken link we've ever had to deal with using product liability as the
basis for the suit. After all, one load of bovine fecal (UK spelling faecal)
matter deserves another. 

It's also been suggested that since the patent was registered by the then
state-owned General Post Office (GPO) and not a private company (BT), then
the telco should have lost all rights to the patent years ago. Critics of
this, no doubt, would argue that intellectual property - like real estate -
would have been transferred to the new operation as a matter or course. 

Others have pointed out that the hypertext and hyperlink concept pre-dates
that of even Ted Nelson's 1970s reference. 

Apparently, it goes at least as far back as Vannevar Bush's article, "As We
May Think", published in the July 1945 edition of Atlantic Monthly

Elsewhere, one former BT employee wrote to provide an insight into the
company's culture and offers an explanation as to why the patent has only
now been unearthed. 

"You ask the question 'why did BT only decide now to capitalise on its
intellectual property?' which betrays a certain lack of understanding about
the internal culture of BT," according to this one-time "saltminer". 

"The illusion of a single-purpose or controlling strategy within BT is
risible at best. It is a seething collection of warring little tin pot
empires, more intent on crushing the opposition in the next office than
facing the competition in the telecomms marketplace. 

"It staggers me that anyone in BT even found this old patent. The fact that
it exists doesn't surprise me - BT holds patents on some wide-ranging (and
often very tenuous) stuff. It's a regular occurrence at Martlesham Heath,
when a manager is feeling a bit insecure, to post off the contents of a
filing cabinet to the Intellectual Properties Unit (IPU) for them to pick
over. Then at the end-of-year performance review, they can point to their
score of XX patent applications as if this was some form of realised

"No doubt the eager IPU beaver who spotted this will be suitably rewarded
with a book token or BT-branded tie. 

"When you think about research in the telecomms business, just ask yourself
the question - how many Nobel Prizes go to Bell Labs and how many to BT?" 

No doubt BT's claim on this essential part of the Web will continue to spark
comment and reaction. 

Ram Mareddy
Architecture Specialist
Siebel Systems, Inc.			Phone:	(650) 295-6092
1855 South Grant St.			Fax:			(650)
San Mateo, CA 94402			Email:   rmareddy@siebel.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Dan Mabbutt [mailto:Seigfried@msn.com]
Sent: Monday, June 26, 2000 3:06 PM
To: Bob Kline
Cc: XML Developers List
Subject: RE: British Telecom owns Hyperlink?

I read the original posting.  My real point was that there are lots of
possibilities.  Here are some more.

- BT Management knows they don't have a chance and they don't care.  They're
automatons responding to a stimulus (the suggestion, generated somewhere in
the bowels of the bureaucracy, that they just might be able to collect money
from this). Some suggestions, no matter how silly, must be given a response,
to avoid the possibility of being held liable for NOT giving a response.
- They don't know they don't have a chance because most of them know so
little about computers that they still require someone else to logon for
- They have no idea this is going on in the first place because the whole
thing is being carried out from one bureaucracy to another far beneath the
management level.  They're too busy attending each other's Important Events.
- They know they have just about zero chance, but they have calculated that
a very tiny probability multiplied by a very huge number (licensing fees for
hyperlinking) is worth it anyway.

After all ... Univac (I know they're not Univac anymore) collects fees for
the GIF compression algorithm after years of "public domain" use.

All right ... I admit it ... they're all pretty pathetic ... but my second
point is that we're all pretty pathetic for putting up with it.  (Where's
the guillotine and the bullet pocked wall when we need it?)

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-xml-dev@xml.org [mailto:owner-xml-dev@xml.org]On Behalf Of Bob
Sent: Monday, June 26, 2000 2:56 PM
To: Dan Mabbutt
Cc: XML Developers List
Subject: RE: British Telecom owns Hyperlink?

On Mon, 26 Jun 2000, Dan Mabbutt wrote:

> OK ... Thinking Dilbert, I can imagine one reason why BT did this
> that doesn't put them in a pathetic light.  (If my idea has any
> truth to it, all of us are in a pathetic light for allowing it to
> happen.)
> My experience is that lawyers will sue for any cause that might
> yield fees for themselves. If a lawyer can convince a court to
> entertain a suit against management for not protecting an "asset" of
> the company (the hyperlink patent rights), fees can be generated.
> What if BT management is simply protecting themselves from frivolous
> lawsuits by filing frivolous patent applications?

I think you must have missed the original posting.  According to the
news report, BT isn't just filing patent applications, they're trying to
(or pretending to try to -- according to the Dilbert theory) collect
royalties.  If they're not pretending, then I don't understand how their
actions could be construed as anything but pathetic.  You don't for a
moment suppose that they have any chance after all these years of
convincing a court to force everyone who uses hyperlinks to pay BT for
the privilege, do you?

Bob Kline

This is xml-dev, the mailing list for XML developers.
To unsubscribe, mailto:majordomo@xml.org&BODY=unsubscribe%20xml-dev
List archives are available at http://xml.org/archives/xml-dev/


News | XML in Industry | Calendar | XML Registry
Marketplace | Resources | MyXML.org | Sponsors | Privacy Statement

Copyright 2001 XML.org. This site is hosted by OASIS