U.S. Patent 6,687,897, granted Feb. 3, is for "XML-based script automation." The method uses the XML (Extensible Markup Language) to combine multiple software scripts, including ones written in different languages, into a single file.
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"It's not just Microsoft--the major vendors are allwhat they can give away and what they can commercialize," said Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester Research. "I think the opinion on that changes situationally, day by day or week by week."
Microsoft earlier agreed to freely provide other software makers with, or schemas, used by its new . But recent in Europe and elsewhere have sparked fears that the company may use patents to lock out competing XML-based applications.
David Kaefer, director of business development at Microsoft, has said the company will license XML-related innovations it patents with a mix of paid and royalty-free licenses, as it has done with other technologies. "It comes down to what offers the best benefits for customers and partners," he said.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lists about 100 issued patents related to XML and more than 500 pending applications, including multiple filings from Microsoft, IBM and other technology giants.