After seeing the news this morning about how the CEO of Scientigo has plans to extract royalties from those who have implemented the XML specification including Microsoft, Oracle, and Amazon (actually, he could probably sue everybody), I asked the man credited with co-inventing XML -- Sun's Tim Bray -- what he thought of the news. Wrote Bray:
The notion that an application filed in January 1997 can cover a technology whose first public draft was in November 1996, and which was based on a then-ten-year-old ISO standard, seems ridiculous on the face of it. So one assumes that they're not trying to put a tollboth on XML itself, it must be some particular B2B application of it or some such. There are no specifics of what they're claiming on their Web site.
The then-ten-year-old ISO standard to which Bray is referring is SGML. According to Bray, XML "is just (SGML - 80%) + URIs for external references + Unicode." Given that Scientigo CEO Doyal Bryant specifically mentioned Amazon as a potential target for royalty extraction, Bray could be right about the e-commerce angle. To the extent that vendors like Oracle and Microsoft have platforms that may facilitate potentially infringing e-commerce applications, they could be targets too.