ODF safe from Microsoft / i4i Lawsuit

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Open Document Format  uses different technology and so is immune to the lawsuit that struck Microsoft, according to experts

Despite earlier reports, the Open Document Format (ODF) is safe from the fall-out of a court result that Microsoft’s Word infringed XML-related patents.

Late last week, analysts from Gartner and the Burton Group expressed the opinion that ODF could also be in breach of a patent belonging to Canadian company i4i which, a court ruled, Microsoft had breached.

The i4i patent is for “a process which separates content and meta-data in different silos”, according to Michael Hickins on Bnet. While Microsoft does this in the OOXML format used in recent versions of Word, but ODF does not.

The current version, ODF 1.1, does not use that sort of functionality, but ODF 1.2 does something vaguely similar, however, it is implemented using the Resource Description Framework, RDFa, part of the Worldwide Web Consortium’s Semantic Web initiative, and not encumbered by patents.

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“RDFa is nothing remotely like Microsoft’s embedded custom XML schemas,” Paul Merrill, a founding member of the Open Document Foundation told Hickins, adding that there is some overlapping functionality which may have confused analysts.

Other reporters, who have assumed that any use of XML could fall foul of the i4i patent, get short shrift from Hickins and others.


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