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Microsoft attempts to patent RSS feed technology


Although Peter Merholz may have coined the term “blog”, Dave Winer is the true godfather of blogging. Winer not only invented the distinctive reverse chronological architecture of today’s blogs, but also invented Really Simple Syndication (RSS) which broadcasts blogs to readers. Like most great discoveries, the creation of the blog was more accidental than intentional. Looking for a way to organize a very large collaborative project, Winer hit upon the frequently updated chronological website structure.

Noting how well his new baby worked on one project, Winer expanded the architecture to assist him in delivering his digital newsletter to readers. When spam crippled his ability to distribute his newsletter via email, Winer came up with the idea of a syndication system that would allow readers to request newsletters. Today, Winer’s RSS delivers billions of blog posts to voracious readers all over the world.

Mr. Winer is upset, however, over recent news that Microsoft is apparently trying to bottle and sell his free RSS elixir via the monopoly afforded under by the patent system. Yesterday the United States Patent and Trademark Office published two Microsoft patent applications covering aspects of RSS feeds. The first patent application covers “Finding and consuming web subscriptions in a web browser.” The second patent application covers a “Content syndication platform used with RSS feeds.”

Microsoft apparently plans to bundle the, still as yet patent pending, technology into an upcoming version of Internet Explorer. Calling such an move to monopolize feed readers for RSS technology an atrocity, Winer calls upon “everyone who has contributed anything to the success of RSS” to denounce any attempt by Microsoft to charge consumers for RSS.

Brett Trout

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