Microsoft defended its patent portfolio last Friday in the face of criticism for a recently granted patent for the conversion of objects into XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language) files.
The patent, which was granted by the US patent office last Tuesday, is for XML serialisation and deserialisation — the conversion of a programming object into an XML file and vice versa. It was criticised by software developers as it is a basic programming concept that is essential for applications using XML to share data.
But Microsoft denied that any of its patents are of low quality and claimed that its patents have been praised in research studies.
"As a result of our industry leading commitment to research and development, Microsoft maintains thousands of patents," said the spokesperson. "Studies routinely rank our innovations among the most significant across any industry. A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2003, which provided an overall assessment of Microsoft’s intellectual property, found that Microsoft continues to develop relevant patents and gave us one of the highest scores on the list of technology companies in that category."
Microsoft did not provide more details on the MIT report, and didn't say why it believes the XML patent is innovative.
Various ZDNet UK readers were angered by the news that Microsoft had been granted a patent for XML serialisation. One reader pointed out that Microsoft should not have been allowed this patent as it is obvious.
"XML was born as a particular format for data storage. A programming object is made up of data. Where is the patentable 'innovation' in using XML for the purpose it's born for?" said one reader.
Software developer Roderick Klein laid the blame at the door of the US patent office. "It just seems people who review patents at patent offices seem to have no skill sets at all when it comes to IT... when you see the incredible amount of crap that gets approved," said Klein.
The US patent office was unable to comment in time for this article.
Ingrid Marson of ZDNet UK reported from London.