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A reading of the Office Open XML draft specification shows some documents may be
encoded using languages covered by Microsoft's patent licensing policy for
Office XML schemas.
If you download the Office reference schemas from Microsoft's site, you find
several schemas. The Microsoft's patent license agreement specifically covers
the "Wordprocessing ML, Spreadsheet ML, and FormTemplate Schemas".
The December Office Open XML specification submitted to Ecma International
encoded using SpreadsheetML, WordprocessingML, PresentationML and DrawingML.
The latter two are not covered by the patent licensing agreement. There doesn't
appear to be a US patent application for either PresentationML or DrawingML.
Presumably the openxmlformats.org site will have the language specs and
reference schemas, but it's under construction.
It would be helpful to know whether PresentationML and DrawingML are free of
intellectual property claims.
======== Ken North ===========