Microsoft has filed for two patents covering technology used to organize and read syndicated Web feeds, such as those delivered via the widely used Really Simple Syndication, or RSS, family of formats.
If granted, one proposed patent would cover “finding and consuming Web subscriptions in a Web browser.” The invention, for example, could allow a user to “subscribe to a particular Web feed, be provided with a user interface that contains distinct indicia to identify new feeds, and…efficiently consume or read RSS feeds using both an RSS reader and a Web browser.”
A related application, titled “content syndication platform,” appears to describe a system that can break down feeds into a format that can be accessed and managed by many different types of applications and users.
If you are familiar with the history of RSS, you know this is going to cause a furor.
Word of Microsoft’s applications drew fire from Dave Winer, a self-described co-inventor of RSS. “Presumably they’re eventually going to charge us to use it,” he wrote in Thursday morning’s dispatch at his site, Scripting News. “This should be denounced by everyone who has contributed anything to the success of RSS.”
Other bloggers criticized the patent applications as unoriginal or overly sweeping. But Nick Bradbury, who created the HTML editor HomeSite and the RSS reader FeedDemon, said he wasn’t ready to jump on the “Microsoft is evil” bandwagon yet. By his estimation, Microsoft’s patent claims were questionable, but, for better or worse, they were perhaps a response to the state of the U.S. patent system, he wrote in a blog entry.
Speaking of which, you can keep track of the latest US patents and patent applications from Microsoft and other leading tech companies at LatestPatents.com. In particular, the two mentioned in the article were part of today’s Microsoft crop of 69 patent applications.