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IBM Patents Web Page Templates

timothy posted about 13 years ago | from the patent-office-crack dept.

Patents 420

jalefkowit writes: "More follies from the US Patent & Trademark Office ... now IBM has been awarded US Patent #6,304,886 for software that automatically "generates [a] customized Web site without the Web site creator writing any HTML or other programming code", based on "a plurality of pre-stored templates, comprising HTML formatting code, text, fields, and formulas" that are then customized through the process of asking the user a few questions. In other words, they've patented the ubiquitous wizards found in FrontPage and other newbie-oriented HTML editors. This was submitted to the USPTO on June 19, 1998 -- surely someone out there knows of prior art for this?"

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Is this the first postt? (-1, Troll)

GoogolPlexPlex (412555) | about 13 years ago | (#2439618)

Some here to avoid being lame...

Sorry IBM (2, Funny)

redcliffe (466773) | about 13 years ago | (#2439619)

I have prior art. I use templates for all my websites. Instead of creating a new product page from scratch I always have a pre-made template which i then modify. Can I please have $10 million dollars? Thanks,


Re:Sorry IBM (1, Interesting)

standards (461431) | about 13 years ago | (#2439653)

Oh, you'll have to share with me.

I created HTML templates and then permitted users to modify the data sent to those templates via a web-based UI. That was sometime around 1995.

I'm sure that a zillion other people have done the same long before me.

Perhaps there's an aspect of the claim that I'm missing?

Re:Sorry IBM (1, Insightful)

jallen02 (124384) | about 13 years ago | (#2439736)

Go read the patent, not even close to what they have patented. Slashdot spin+ignorance = irrelevant comment.


Re:Sorry IBM (2, Interesting)

redcliffe (466773) | about 13 years ago | (#2439777)

What they've patented is just a software wizard that does what I just said. That's not innovative enough IMHO to justify a patent.

Re:Sorry IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2439789)

I read the patent. AND, unlike you, I understood it.

The major claims are certainly in question. Claim #1, the major claim, is just the same old HTML template system with some bells and whisles. Claim #7 and #19 also appears to have many examples of prior art. The other claims are minor, and are tightly coupled to #1, #7, and #19.

This is not the stuff that good, defendable patents are made of.

Re:Sorry IBM (1, Flamebait)

drsoran (979) | about 13 years ago | (#2439758)

Well I guess that's too bad for you. IBM had the bright idea to patent it. ;-) I realize there's probably going to be prior art and it'll be invalidated, but IMHO, you snooze you lose. People shouldn't take things they do so lightly. If you do something that you consider new and innovative, rush out and patent the idea. It just may make you a million dollars some day.

Re:Sorry IBM (5, Interesting)

Zeinfeld (263942) | about 13 years ago | (#2439791)

I have prior art going back to 1993.

I was in a patent meeting when we were discussing filling a bunch of patents so that we would have amunition to fire back should some company come and fire at usthe patents that they orginialy filed for the same reason.

The reason I don't like doing that sort of thing is that besides being essentially fraudulent the fact is that no company has prospered long on the basis of a patent portfolio alone. Polaroid and Xerox are two prime examples of the long term effect of management thinking they have a monopoly in their market.

Re:Sorry IBM (1)

Woundweavr (37873) | about 13 years ago | (#2439792)

Read it again. You need prior art to 98 not now. Everyone has it now, its only a question of then.

Re:Sorry IBM (1)

redcliffe (466773) | about 13 years ago | (#2439804)

I've been using this since before then.

Online Merchant (3, Interesting)

Alien54 (180860) | about 13 years ago | (#2439828)

Heck, there is this bit of software: Online Merchant []

a quick and dirty product that uses a Paradox database engine under Windows to generate a mass of perl scripts to auto generate a simple web store, complete with graphics, etc., which are then uploaded by the program to you site on a Unix server.

By Stumpworld Services, the owners of which have since sold the company and got out while the getting was good. It is now integrated with a hosting service [] , which cuts out the hassle of mom and pop businesses trying to deal with clueless ISPs.

The date of the original software press release to market was July 15, 1998, and there was an extensive beta period before then.

I think there is enough prior art to have this covered.

IBM (-1, Troll)

sllort (442574) | about 13 years ago | (#2439620)

IBM: Dear friends of Linux: we don't give a god damn about your ideals. Go to hell.

moderators *not* on crack (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2439709)

good, that idiot sllort finally got the moderation he deserved. stupid troll...

Plenty of Prior Art (1)

wolf- (54587) | about 13 years ago | (#2439621)

We wrote VB apps to generate pages for our employees with minor interaction. Had some c++ apps that generated html from databases. Its sad this stuff gets in.

[yawn] Been there... (3, Informative)

Boatman (127445) | about 13 years ago | (#2439622)

I wrote code for this in (Openmarket's - then ICentral's) Shopsite Manager back in 1997. Fill in your products, pick some options, get an e-commerce website. Sigh.

Re:[yawn] Been there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2439628)

Configurable website using templates, written in Perl in '94 ... any takers? :)

Word wizards + HTML save = HTML wizard (2, Funny)

morcheeba (260908) | about 13 years ago | (#2439623)

I'm not sure when ms word got the ability to save HTML, but combine that with the generic document-generating wizards it has and *presto* you've got html templates. Not that everyone wants to read a web page that starts off "Interoffice memo"....

Re:Word wizards + HTML save = HTML wizard (1)

Bagheera (71311) | about 13 years ago | (#2439667)

I seem to remember an add-on to Word 6.0 under Windows 3.x that had that capability around '95 or so. I'd imagine I still have a copy of it somewhere - though not the 5.25" disk I'd need to read it....

Typical IBM (2, Insightful)

Red Avenger (197064) | about 13 years ago | (#2439624)

IBM espouses so much about being an open company and promoting open things. And then they go and pull something like this. I seriously don't get this company. I really want to like them but more and more I can't.

Re:Typical IBM (3, Insightful)

Bandman (86149) | about 13 years ago | (#2439658)

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

If they can smack Microsoft around for making Frontpage, then I'm all for it. If I was IBM, I'd do it just to see MSFT squirm...

Re:Typical IBM (2, Insightful)

John Miles (108215) | about 13 years ago | (#2439686)

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Uh huh. That kind of thinking is how we ended up with the Taliban.

Re:Typical IBM (0, Flamebait)

Crakor (12469) | about 13 years ago | (#2439750)

more like thats how we ended up with osama

Re:Typical IBM (3, Informative)

EvilJohn (17821) | about 13 years ago | (#2439788)

...and how we wound up with England as an ally.

Like most designs, it is not the idea itself that matters so much, but how you implement it.

Re:Typical IBM (2)

AntiNorm (155641) | about 13 years ago | (#2439780)

If they can smack Microsoft around for making Frontpage, then I'm all for it. If I was IBM, I'd do it just to see MSFT squirm...

Scary thought, but doesn't MSFT have a habit of buying out the companies that make them squirm?

Re:Typical IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2439659)

Yeah, good thinking. After all, the company is made up of a single employee who sits in an office all day changing his mind on what he wants to do.

Re:Typical IBM (3, Insightful)

gnomish (168308) | about 13 years ago | (#2439663)

This speaks more to the Patent Office than IBM. IBM's success, in part, is a function of developing new things and getting the rights to sell them exclusively.. and if you had your own IBM you'd be doing the same thing. The Patent Office, on the other hand, is woefully inept at identifying unique things. In addition, they bear none of the consequences for granting a patent when no patent should have been issued.

Realistically, I doubt IBM would even bother to enforce this patent. It would behoove them nothing.

Re:Typical IBM (1)

TummyX (84871) | about 13 years ago | (#2439666)

Well companies (including Microsoft and IBM) are rarely made up of ONE mind (no borg jokes please).

There are many departments, many ideas and many opinions (much like a certain "free" country i'm thinking of).

A-Typical new IBM (1)

belg4mit (152620) | about 13 years ago | (#2439677)

Think about it. The patent was filed in 1998.
IBM (AFAIK) not proclaiming to be open
and friendly yet. That didn't happen until
a bit later (circa 2000?)

Re:Typical IBM (2)

MindStalker (22827) | about 13 years ago | (#2439691)

Ok, companies are CONSTANTLY filling patents anything and everything. Many are used as legal defense, many are used just as trophies. Few are actually used badly. If IBM starts asking for any licenses from anyone for this patent for any reason. THEN we should start screaming. I know you will say that they shouldn't be filling for such things in the first place. Then go yell at the Patent Office, because had IBM not filled for a patent on that idea, someone would have.

Re:Typical IBM (2, Insightful)

macinslak (41252) | about 13 years ago | (#2439774)

What if the person that they finally decide to chase after doesn't have the money or resources to put up with IBM's legal department? Old unknown patents are really dangerous (scenarios like GIF and MP3 come to mind).

IBM isn't holy, these are the same people that want to put hardware copy control on your hard drive. Though at the same time, I doubt they did this on purpose. There's probably an idiot in some idiot somewhere in IBM who honestly thought this was a new thing.

Re:Typical IBM (1)

Ty (15982) | about 13 years ago | (#2439716)

My friend had a couple comics about this over here []

Is there a patent for the wheel? (0)

Dark_Cobra87 (413519) | about 13 years ago | (#2439626)

If not, I'd better jump on the bandwagon! Big money ahead, look out Bill Gates!

-Dark Cobra, future owner of Wheels Incorperated (if such a company does not currently exist)

Re:Is there a patent for the wheel? (2, Informative)

johngaunt (414543) | about 13 years ago | (#2439672)

Yes, there is, the info was posted here [] on slashdot a while back

Re:damn them (0)

Dark_Cobra87 (413519) | about 13 years ago | (#2439683)

DAMN THEM! Maybe I can patent religion.... wait...that's scientology... damn... any ideas?

Re:damn them (1)

jeffy124 (453342) | about 13 years ago | (#2439712)

if i tell you my ideas i'd also have to kill ya.

Re:damn them (0)

Dark_Cobra87 (413519) | about 13 years ago | (#2439735)

I'll just patent your ideas! and "actions which take live away from individual"

Prior Art (4, Interesting)

_azure23 (238110) | about 13 years ago | (#2439631)

Sure, how about FrontPage97?

Re:Prior Art (3, Insightful)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 13 years ago | (#2439642)

How about any text editor with a sufficient number of macros?

My templates (2, Insightful)

Foxxz (106642) | about 13 years ago | (#2439634)

are HTML with perl variables in them that get filled in when executed. so do i have to pay money? i think not. lets see them try to collect.


Only a problem if they enforce it... (0)

velkro (11) | about 13 years ago | (#2439641)

Yes, patents are evil. But I'd rather have IBM, who is it at least *partially* open source friendly have this patent, than say, Microsoft, who could license it in such a way that only Frontpage + IIS would be allowed to use templates...

Re:Only a problem if they enforce it... (0)

Dark_Cobra87 (413519) | about 13 years ago | (#2439654)

Yeah, at least it's not Microsoft. Just imagine...


Exactly (5, Insightful)

MrBlack (104657) | about 13 years ago | (#2439693)

IBM seem to be pretty good about this. Remember both IBM and Unisys held patents on LZW compression (IBM's application was filed 3 weeks BEFORE Unisys), but it is Unisys that tried to extract all the money from it. IIRR IBM have released may of their patents to the public domain.

in other news... (2, Offtopic)

superdk (184900) | about 13 years ago | (#2439643)

The RIAA patents sound in an attempt to draw royalties on everything that makes any sound including but not limited to musical works and things that go bump in the night.

Film at 11:00

Re:in other news... (3, Offtopic)

re-geeked (113937) | about 13 years ago | (#2439662)

*Silent* film at eleven.

Re:in other news... (1, Offtopic)

pgpckt (312866) | about 13 years ago | (#2439766)

Nope, sorry, but the way the RIAA has patented sound *includes* the lack of sound too. After all, a stream of all zeros XORed with the right one time pad could be a copyrighted song! The RIAA has therefore secured rights to all zeros, XOR, and one time pads.

Re:in other news... (1)

Alien Being (18488) | about 13 years ago | (#2439706)

What if nobody is around to hear it?

Patented Dirt (1)

Renraku (518261) | about 13 years ago | (#2439644)

It would be like patenting dirt, although many people have dirt in their house. Many people use web templates, and I can just see people who didn't use it getting sued because their pages look like they came from a template. All the poor newbies will have to pay royalties to have their useless information posted.

hahah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2439645)


Education (1)

Shadowin (312793) | about 13 years ago | (#2439649)

Are the people in the patent office uneducated? People that work in that kind of field need to be educated in technology, so that they don't make inane mistakes such as this. If you understand what a template is, you would also understand that it's nothing new or innovative that deserves intellectual property protection. Next thing you know, someone will patent window styles.


Prior art, right here! (4, Troll)

oGMo (379) | about 13 years ago | (#2439651)

A friend of mine (Nathan Anderson) wrote something that I believe is quite like this, and posted it right here to slashdot, a number of years ago. Here is the article [] . Judge for yourself. When he sees this he'll probably post something about it as well. Does this count as prior art?

Frontpage 97 (1)

Gangis (310282) | about 13 years ago | (#2439657)

Frontpage 97 had that feature. I remember it all too well! ^_^

Prior art ... (3, Interesting)

jonku (472956) | about 13 years ago | (#2439664)

Someone has to answer this.

"customized Web site without the Web site creator writing any HTML or other programming code", based on "a plurality of pre-stored templates"

In 1996 I wrote JavaScript that would give a different action based on browser detection. This did require "programming."

I recently wrote a content manangement system (1999) and e-commerce site, the creator does no programming. [] .

Same workaround: different browsers see different-looking page (CSS or simplified version for IE 3.0, which cannot deliver different colored links on the same page). Similar effects for other features, pop-up windows etc. Also different menu actions. Many done with included page fragments ("templates").

Perhaps a lawyer would say I am the creator, although the tools were handed over to non-techies, they loaded all the images, content and products and now run the site.

Another answer is browser detection sending to a Flash or vanilla html site. Which are "templates."

Am I missing the point?

uhhhhhhhh (4, Insightful)

Dr. Awktagon (233360) | about 13 years ago | (#2439665)

wouldn't this cover any program that has a "save as HTML" option?? That lets you create HTML without typing any HTML codes, and somewhere in the guts of the program are some HTML templates, right?

Re:uhhhhhhhh (1)

gnomish (168308) | about 13 years ago | (#2439676)

My guess is, even if IBM wanted to, that it would apply to a complete product that generates an entire web site.

Geocities? (1)

devleopard (317515) | about 13 years ago | (#2439668)

Didn't GeoCities have a site builder back in 95 or 96?

Re:Geocities? (0)

nocomment (239368) | about 13 years ago | (#2439759)

geocities, among others, i remember back in college prolly in 94-ish using angelfire for mine...

IBM patents WYSIWYG (1)

akira2001 (138064) | about 13 years ago | (#2439669)

umm great, IBM has patented the WYSIWG html editor. I'm pretty sure that every single WYSIWG html editor allows a user to enter in non-html (or programming) code & almost every single of these editors have a blank page loaded when you select "new page" that has the basic html head & body tags already there.
what is really interesting is:
"Based on roles-based, multi-level security, certain users of the web site may have access to certain information and others may not"
so basically any single website I've written in the past 3 years that uses php functions & .htaccess can be considered prior art. sheesh.

Can you imagine.... (2, Funny)

redcliffe (466773) | about 13 years ago | (#2439670)

a patent of beowulf clusters?


Re:Can you imagine.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2439715)

or a beowulf cluster of patents?


Question (1)

Insipid Trunculance (526362) | about 13 years ago | (#2439682)

Is the Patent Office not supposed to examine a patent before issuing it.I am sure the USPO employs a number of people who are fairly conversant with Computing Technologies,is it that they now need people who can understand ENGLISH??

perfectly.. (1)

antonsthlm (123603) | about 13 years ago | (#2439684)

... now they can sue Microsoft oncce more.

So it's not THAT bad actually. I mean, it could be M$ that got it, instead.

Does Slashdot not constitute prior art? (1)

MURL (91845) | about 13 years ago | (#2439685)

Am I not now as I type this building a web page using no html of mine own? Also claimed in the patent was something to the effect of different users would have different priveleges, and as such not all users would have access to all the information?


A modest suggestion (5, Interesting)

AirLace (86148) | about 13 years ago | (#2439692)

Why doesn't the patent office implement a system whereby patent holders who are found to be abusing the system are denied the right to file any further patents for a specified period (say, 5 years) or lose the rights to other more valuable patents that they own? I think that'd make corporations like IBM which are looking to make a buck off trivial patents think twice about what they're doing. This software patent madness has to stop before it spreads to Europe.

Re:A modest suggestion (1)

Anonymous DWord (466154) | about 13 years ago | (#2439811)

This software patent madness has to stop before it spreads to Europe.

Hey, it's only fair. If Europe gives us mad cow disease, we'll strike back with moronic patent law!

In other news... (1)

chronos2266 (514349) | about 13 years ago | (#2439694)

IBM has just been awarded the patent for forms that submit information on webpages.

An IBM representative comments that, "With this new technology coupled with our template system, we have created a new interactive webpage in which users can enter information and get an automated reply, the future is here!"

what i think IBM is trying to say is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2439696)

Hello Gentlemen,
All your web templates are belong to us.

They later added.....
Sorry, MS, we got here first.

I see it every day (2, Interesting)

unfrgvnme (304410) | about 13 years ago | (#2439701)

In working for an IP law firm, I see the rediculousness that is the USPTO every day. The fact that they could grant such a patent doesn't surprise me in the least.

But will IBM enforce this? (1)

moogla (118134) | about 13 years ago | (#2439702)

Is IBM's IP department that bold/dimwitted that they intend to defend this patent and get some money? Does anyone have any information on this?

No self-respecting company should yield to this possible threat from IBM, anyway. There would be plenty of examples of prior art (as has been already shown by posters above). Even if IBM came knocking around my door about this (I'm about to use this newfangled "templates" thing on some intranet sites), I'd tell them in the most polite way to go fuck themselves. Maybe we can file this away under "stupid but harmless".

Geocities? (1)

Beowulfto (169354) | about 13 years ago | (#2439703)

Maybe someone with a better memory could correct me, but I believe that Geocities would count as prior art. Their old template driven design existed in '95-'96 IIRC.

some days... (0, Offtopic)

forgetmenot (467513) | about 13 years ago | (#2439707)

I'm just afraid of waking up... somebody might have patented THAT!

oh crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2439713)

I guess this will cover XSLT, DTD's and Cacoon. CRAP! Now what will I do? Next they will patent the GUI! oh wait

Patents: first come first serve (1)

GoatPigSheep (525460) | about 13 years ago | (#2439718)

the way things are going, patents have become like like good domain names

everyone should get the best patents while they can

it's a patent free-for-all

and it has made quite a joke of the system

Based on the (5, Informative)

jallen02 (124384) | about 13 years ago | (#2439720)

This is a fairly specific patent. After having a look at it im not really concerned. Their definition of "tool" is a little loose, which bothers me somewhat.

Having worked with content management systems in both PHP and ColdFusion using a WebBrowser and a VB client for managing the content.

The chances your specific interface emulate completely IBMs described interface are little to none.

Before I rise up to say how evil IBM is I will say this. Patents are an eventuality. It is like a nuclear arms race, if you don't patent it someone else will, and then they can use it against you or at least hold it over you.

Is this new, unique, exciting, or worth a patent? No probably not. It seems from their description to be little more than a super-duper WYSIWYAG (What you see is what you almost get) type site builder. WIth IBMs drive to do ecommerce this definitely fits with thier overall marketing and business plans.. This would obviously be for the low - medium end of the ecommerce spectrum

THe system also defines a system of content approval and rights of some sort

All in all I have designed systems this in depth or more. The systems may do similar things but the means of doing it are invariably almost completely different. (Of course my system focuses on already having a site and allowing an administrator to build the site without the overhead of really thinking up the design aspect at all.. just manage the content)

Again, this is just an incremental evolution.


Re:Based on the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2439800)

You say this as a Microsoft employee?

Re:Based on the (4, Insightful)

Spy Hunter (317220) | about 13 years ago | (#2439803)

if you don't patent it someone else will,

What? That's what prior art is for! If you don't patent it no one else can, because you have prior art.

Userland Frontier (1)

Philippe (3665) | about 13 years ago | (#2439722)

Userland Frontier [] has been doing that since at least 1995 (the Aretha release).

paperclip? (1)

drfrog (145882) | about 13 years ago | (#2439726)

dunno if this qualifies...
here goes...
there was this old commodore basic program for the
pet's called paperclip, we learned how to do form
letter's back in '85 using basic text templates
with placeholders...

who owns commodore again?

Pay up, slashdot. (1)

sam_handelman (519767) | about 13 years ago | (#2439732)

I've filed a patent on any internetwork protocol ("IP") driven discussion forum centering on issues related to, but not limited to: communications technology, free speech issues, computer science, intellectual property policy, sociological interpretation of trends in technology and technology law, and recreational interests (science fiction, video games, anime et. al.) commonly associated with the "technologically savvy".

CmdrTaco, consider yourself served! I'm still waiting for all that money you owe me for continued use of your DNA.

Also, I've ammended my slashdot user agreement to include an arbitration clause (persuant to the broadest possible interpretation of the Federal Arbitration Act) so I won't actually be seeing you in a "court", per se.

Re:Pay up, slashdot. (1)

aka-ed (459608) | about 13 years ago | (#2439808)

I have filed a patent on the the representation of pi in binary format. Since binary representations of all future patents may be derived from my IP, I have served notice on the patent office to cease and desist from issuing any further patents.

Interning at IBM (5, Informative)

pjdepasq (214609) | about 13 years ago | (#2439733)

Having interned at IBM for a summer (2000), I was somewhat nauseated during a meeting I sat in on where the focus was 'What can we patent?'. While I understand the purpose of such meetings, anything not nailed down was fair game to have a patent attempted for it.

We were constantly reminded that IBM was the corporate leader of patents (whoo hooo! How about getting my damned stock price up again!) and that meetings like this were common.

I found it to be pathetic.

err, non-obvious here, PLEASE! (1)

Lord Bitman (95493) | about 13 years ago | (#2439734)

a month or two ago I needed to convert some old IRC-type (though not actually IRC) logs to a more-readable format. I was far too lazy to spend the thirty minutes to an hour required to put in the HTML on each line of the file...

So I downloaded perl, spent the next day learning its basics, and.. get this.. made a program to create pages based on a template and using a few user-selected options. I still use it on the rare occasion I need to convert something.

Here's just an idea for a postulate:
if it takes less than a minute between being presented with a problem and comming up with the solution, the solution is not nonobvious. I dont care how fucking smart you may think you are. Being able to apply the solution within that minute doesnt matter, as long as you have the idea for it in your head, because these patents dont cover specifics, but concepts. So you came up with the concept, it's not nonobvious.

Thought Process to any problem:
1) "Damnit, I dont want to have to do this.."
2) "Wish I had something to do it for me.."
3) "Seems like it would be easy enough, just inserting this same code over and over again, it's finding the splits by eye which is taking so long.. I could do it through find and replace but replacing one thing adds something to the block which would trigger the find and replace elsewhere. Then there's some cases I want other things to happen.. and I also want t move around some of these blocks.."
4) [all the above becomes general outlines in your head]
5) "Hey, didnt Vhalros say something the other day about how perl is good with Regexps..?"

time: probably no more than 45 seconds. The human brain does some great things with parralell proccessing.

I think it took longer to figure out how to use the wheel effectively using an axel, and I'm pretty sure that one's considered obvious.

ARgh (2)

BierGuzzl (92635) | about 13 years ago | (#2439737)

Why don't we hear about this stuff _before_ it's a done deal? I realize that the chances of it actually affecting any given person are slim to none but in the event that this type of patent actually gets leveraged in some way or other, I'd prefer to have a chance to voice my objection before the patent is actually granted.

IBM = Patents (1)

devinoni (13244) | about 13 years ago | (#2439740)

IBM file patents because it makes them money. IBM held the patent for the blinking cursor for a long time. The blinking cursor patent made them a lot of money. I wouldn't be surprised if the IBM employees who filed that patent in 1998 (a long time ago in Internet Time), exposure to web authoring was limited to writing a webpage in an editor that worked in mosaic. The fault is in the patent office for taking such a stupid patent.

angelfire? (1)

Crakor (12469) | about 13 years ago | (#2439743)

i would think this would apply to anything and not just applications. That being the case a lot of website places have had this around for a while. Angelfire ( at least has had it there since '97 if not earlier

that wasn't hard (0)

nocomment (239368) | about 13 years ago | (#2439745)

that wasn't hard i flipped open my netscape gold book from 1996 that has a homepage maker in it.

that was easy

come on bring it on

Yet more prior art (2)

OblongPlatypus (233746) | about 13 years ago | (#2439753)

I'm no expert on deciphering patent-language, but the free community hosting service [] I started in April 1998 seems to do more or less exactly what this patent covers.

mail merge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2439754)

Yeah, I can think of an example of prior art
for customizing preformatted text files to
produce new text documents on the fly.

Its called "mail merge" ...

This is getting out of hand (2)

nate.sammons (22484) | about 13 years ago | (#2439762)

Someone really, really needs to get a clue over at the old patent office. This and so very many other idiotic patents have slipped through the US patent office in the last few years.

There's TONS of prior art on this. I worked on a product for Proxicom in 1997 that let you fill out a fancy wizardy thing that built websites from your web browser.

Everyone has mentioned FrontPage97, etc, etc, etc. This really is criminal -- when you do a patent search, you're supposed to DO A PATENT SEARCH, which also includes A SEARCH FOR PRIOR ART.

And the patent office should ALSO DO A PRIOR ART SEARCH. What the hell?


Intellectual Piracy (0, Flamebait)

Cryptimus (243846) | about 13 years ago | (#2439763)

As I've said before, the United States Patent Office is a tool of the US government designed to grant commercial advantage to US companies.

The chance of getting your patent granted and the speed with which this is accomplished has nothing to do with the merits of the application.

On the contrary it's a function of the "Apple Pie" rating of the patent filer. The "Apple Pie" rating is a metric of how American the patent filer is.

For example, IBM and Microsoft are large well-established US corporations whose activities are likely to benefit the US government and economy in general. Thus, their Apple Pie rating is high and patents are granted without a second thought.

Contrast this to a foreign company held in an Allied company such as Britain, Germany or Australia. Such companies would have a much lower Apple Pie rating but would be prioritised above an applicant from Iran or the Sudan.

Essentially it's legal intellectual piracy. The patent office is riddled with incompetence and corruption. No-one notices since it's not immediately obvious what the stakes are.

IBM alone files thousands of patents a year. Ever wonder just what obvious, predated, prior-art patents they've got a lock on. Go on in and have a look. The malfeasance of the US patent office is both astonishing and disgusting.

Let's resume the patent system for a normal person (2)

tcc (140386) | about 13 years ago | (#2439764)

Some small people with CREATIVE ideas cannot go to patent their creation because of the legal fees, plus the pattent application fees, (a patent application plus extras comes over 5000$ easily for those of you who don't know)... meanwhile, big companies can patent useless stuff that will break innovation (I'm starting to hate that word) instead of it's root concept of being to PROTECT I.P.

Of course this means, those who might actually BENEFIT from the system for a just cause cannot access it (well depending on your cashflow as a startup for example , you have that great idea, you get 100K$ seed money to develop a simple prototype application/device so you can demonstrate your idea and get even more financing... will you use 5 to 10% of that budget for a PATENT (which will bring even more fees in the process) or will you concentrate on the project itself? Yep.. you guessed it right, and as soon as you go for your round of financing and approach people with money, funny how those NDAs mean nothing for them (since anyways, you won't be able to sue them) and if you get thru all of that crap, normally you get bought out for a fraction of what you could have made, because probably the investors will tell you if you don't comply with their rules they'll invest in that X company that can pull out the same thing and even better (and drive you out of buisness) etc etc, so probably you lose control over your project (51% shares not to you), and if you're really unlucky, the appointed CEO is a jerk and makes the whole thing goes down... if it works and becomes a success, notice you probably not even have 1% of the company with the dillution and all the maths applied after. (still, 1% of 100M$ is not too bad if you get there :) ).

Of course with SOFTWARE it can be a bit more positive, but for let's say, some cool hardware application, or innovative invention, it's another story.

This is almost depressing. heh...

AT&T sues IBM!! (2, Funny)

kcbrown (7426) | about 13 years ago | (#2439765)

Murray Hill, NJ -- Today AT&T sued IBM for patent infringement, noting that IBM's patent on web templates is an infringement of AT&T's patent on #include.

#include, found in the C language's preprocessor, was invented in the early 1970's by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie. "The #include directive is really a very innovative invention", said John Law, director of language sales at AT&T. "The technology landscape just wouldn't be the same without it".

Representatives from IBM were unavailable for comment, but were heard muttering something about how they "can't stand it when someone beats us to it".

ABOUT: Box (1)

man_ls (248470) | about 13 years ago | (#2439772)

Someone read the ABOUT box on Microsoft FrontPage Express 98, the version bundled with Windows 98. Surely some of those patents cover what IBM is trying to repatent?

I've always thought IBM to be one of the "less evil" big companies, but maybe that's a wrong perception, in light of the failing hard drives, and now trying to steal another company's I.P.

IANAL, JKoebel

Web-based content management tools? (2, Interesting)

theancient2 (527101) | about 13 years ago | (#2439778)

I could be wrong here, but it sounds like this could apply to more than just wizards. What about web-based content management tools, which allow the user to copy and paste plain text into an input box, check a few options, and have HTML pages generated on the fly?

(I tried reading the claims of the patent to see if this is true, but got lost in legalese. The patent has 24 claims, and I'm assuming each of those claims must be violated in order to be considered patent infringement.)

I think I invented this when I was working for IBM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 13 years ago | (#2439779)

Glad to see that my code has made it into the history books! I wish they had bothered to tell me about it, though.

FYI:Yahoo 1997 patent for dynamic pages (2)

Ars-Fartsica (166957) | about 13 years ago | (#2439786) O2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=/netahtml/search-adv.htm&r=2&p=1 &f=G&l=50&d=ft00&S1=nazem.INZZ.&OS=in/nazem&RS=IN/ nazem

Not sure how this conflicts/contrasts with the IBM patent.

The Best Reason to Not Patent (2)

ReadParse (38517) | about 13 years ago | (#2439795)

I just realized the paramount reason to not patent internet "inventions"... by the time it gets approved, nobody gives a damn about it anymore. This thing was submitted in June of 98, for crying out loud!


Some Prior Art (2)

cjsnell (5825) | about 13 years ago | (#2439798)

How about Ralf Engelschall's WML [] language? According to the copyright [] , WML came about in 1996.

Patenting software (1)

andymac (82298) | about 13 years ago | (#2439799)

ugh. I though patents were for processes and techniques, in general, and that software, in particular, could not be patented (at least that was the "spirit" of patents). Copyright and Trademarks are supposed to apply to products like software (IP), not patents. I could be mistaken, as the bloody USPTO is being slashdotted... sigh. Oh wait, got it.

You can patent:
  • Inventions: (a) The term "invention" means invention or
  • Processes: (b) The term "process" means process, art, or
    method, and includes a new use of a known process,
    machine, manufacture, composition of matter, or

(Taken liberally from United States Code Title 35 - Patents [] , Part 2, Chapter 101.

So if they patented the process of the Auto-generation of HTML, then they'd be patenting a process, not the tool to complete the process.

Punks. This whole patenting of software is ridiculous. I have a friend who works for a med-tech company, and they're always looking for things to patent... he's filled out so many of those damn forms he could do it in his sleep. Is the company doing well? Is the company valuable? Nah... that'd make sense ;-).

Hey IBM! (1, Flamebait)

Sanity (1431) | about 13 years ago | (#2439820)

Welcome back to the shitlist!

Perl? (1)

fogof (168191) | about 13 years ago | (#2439822)

Does the patent cover CGI scirpt that produce HTML on the fly? Does that mean that all dynamic page are covered by the patent?
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