"The patent in question is number 5,850,518, otherwise known simply as 518.
It was filed on December 12, 1994, when the world wide web was just a wee
bairn and Mosaic was still a primitive and before there was much in the way
of prior art on such widgetry.
According to the way the rules work, prior art would have to have been
filed a year before Charlie filed and he's already claimed "interference"
by some patents - a Sun one, for instance - that were filed after 518 - and
The 518 patent, which was granted in bureaucratic time on December 14,
1998, is called "Access Method Independent Exchange," which Charlie says
means it separates physical connectivity from logical connectivity. It's
all about the automated discovery and connection of web services though the
word "web" was never used in the filing since the web didn't exist then
outside of research circles but 518 describes how to connect to a service
using TCP/IP so it doesn't matter; it anticipates web services.
The thing is huge and so rife with implications it makes Charlie look like
a visitor from the future. The average IBM patent - and IBM's patent
library is legendary - runs 20 pages and makes 20 claims. Charlie's runs
144 pages and details an entire system, not just one particular piece of
mojah. Charlie definitely gets an A+ in thoroughness.
So what does it mean? Well, for starters, its existence could compromise,
oh, say, Windows XP (now wouldn't those rabid states attorneys general like
to know that), Windows 98 - it does automatic software upgrades - and
possibly all those connections browsers make. "
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