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There is a debate going on in Europe about the European Patent Litigation
Agreement (EPLA). The EPLA opposition includes people who waged a successful
campaign against European patents on software. The European Parliament rejected
a measure that legalizes software patents.
Do those decisions apply to XML file formats, schemas and vocabularies? And do
they apply retroactively? For example, Microsoft holds patent EP1376387 for
"Word-processing document stored in a single file". It filed for the patent in
April 2003. Microsoft has said it would not enforce the patent on Office 2003
XML Reference Schemas.
From the UK Patent Office:
"Patenting file formats allows companies to actually sue competitors when file
interchange is possible. The US is now in the situation where future word
processors may not be able to read each others files, regardless of user desire,
because patents are taken out on algorithms to read the file. This is not to the
benefit of society."
Are we looking at the EU not patenting software, but the US will patent
software, business methods and file formats?