Microsoft wants to patent RSS?

I'll say it again. Microsoft wants to patent RSS?

Last Updated: December 26th, 2006 • Opinion •

No, not just RSS, but the software that runs on top of RSS?

I know I'm not a lawyer, but let's start with the basics.

What's the definition of a Patent?

 pat·ent (pat'nt) - n.

 1. A grant made by a government that confers
upon the creator of an invention the sole right
to make, use, and sell that invention for a set
period of time.
(Taken from

I understand what a patent is. I also understand that the RSS specification is free as well.

Ok. Let's focus on that. What is the definition of RSS?

 (Really Simple Syndication) A syndication format 
that was developed by Netscape in 1999 and became very
popular for aggregating updates to blogs and the news sites.
(Taken from

According to the patent filed from Microsoft, they are claiming they created services for "Finding and consuming web subscriptions in a web browser." The thing that really makes me raise an eyebrow is the fact that it was filed back in June of 2005.

(Lewis Black-type rant) This is saying to me that based on an open source technology (RSS), I can write a routine or set of routines that creates, manages, and consumes this open source technology and I will be granted a patent for the software developed? Is this what Microsoft is patenting?

But it sounds like Microsoft isn't really the inventor of RSS. They just want to make software that uses the open source XML format. I've developed some similar techniques with RSS, but never really pursued the idea of patenting my code to say that I've come up with (Ta-daahhhh) a feed reader that reads, writes, manages, and consumes RSS feeds. C'mon.

Is that what they are patenting? A feed reader API?

Why do things always go gray and fuzzy when the legal system comes into play? I better not think too much about it or my eyes will cross.

If you're looking for more information regarding the patent,  check Ars Technica and the Microsoft RSS Team's blog.

What does everybody else think about this patent?

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Picture of Jonathan Danylko

Jonathan Danylko is a freelance web architect and avid programmer who has been programming for over 20 years. He has developed various systems in numerous industries including e-commerce, biotechnology, real estate, health, insurance, and utility companies.

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, he replies, "Programming."

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