Microsoft has applied for a patent that covers various APIs related to the Microsoft .NET technologies. The patent involves network access and XML, the markup language that forms the basis of .NET Web services. The company filed its application for the patent last year but didn't disclose information about the application until this week.
The open-source community and various standards bodies fear that the company might use the patent to dictate how other companies work with .NET. In the open-source community, concerns that Microsoft will enforce its patents to squash innovation are rampant. Fears that the software giant will prevent Linux and other open-source solutions from connecting to .NET have caused some high-profile open-source advocates, such as Richard Stallman, to call for boycotts of companies that enforce patents. At this time, however, Microsoft seems ambivalent to open-source participation in .NET, although the company has provided assistance to the Mono Project, which wants to provide .NET capabilities to Linux.
Microsoft's most recent patent application is only one of several .NET patents the company has applied for, however, and the company notes that it's following in the steps of other industry giants such as IBM, which is the most ardent patent creator (the US Patent Office granted IBM more than 3200 patents in 2002 alone and more than 22,000 during the past decade). Microsoft has yet to comment about its goals in seeking a patent for various .NET technologies.