Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Calendar sharing: Patent pending?

Some longtime readers may remember Microsoft's Cameron Stillion, who communicated with me prior to the launch of Office 12. What I didn't know until today is that Cameron has applied for a software patent, "Providing electronic distribution of filtered calendars." If you click on that last link, and enter the Publication number 20070143685, you'll be able to browse a wealth of information about the application. I wonder what CalConnect, or Google, or any number of other calendar-sharing organizations and businesses, have to say about the potential validity of this patent? Could we be headed for a calendar-sharing future that requires a royalty payment to Microsoft?

UPDATE 9/30/08: Cameron Stillion responds in a comment to this post.

1 comment:

Cameron said...

Microsoft patents most of its implementations of specific protocols and their curious and optimized additions to standards or pseudo-standards. It's what makes one manufacturer's software unique from others. Patenting the Outlook 12 implementation of sharing does not limit other applications from interoperability using standard mechanisms or similar protocols, it simply protects the unique implementation of Outlook's distribution, roaming model, MAPI-integration, multi-layer expression/filtering, and other interesting sharing features. Just like writing MAPI properties is not patentable, but the Outlook MAPI implementation is... As a member of CalConnect, Microsoft clearly would not (and could not) patent the sharing of calendars. Can you say "anti-thematic"?

In fact, Microsoft's increased involvement in the Calendaring Consortium is a great sign that "the swamp" is headed for cleanup. Aligning these large planets is not easy, but it is happening slowly. This is cause for positive commentary, I dare say.

As far as the patent is concerned... don't get wrapped around the axle on this. Patenting a new kind of tire doesn't stop others from driving on the same road.

-Cameron Stillion