"Every day on average last year, the U.S. government issued
nearly 50 patents on Internet tools and other software. But
this apparent blitz of creativity may belie a big problem: Many of
these inventions, some critics charge, aren't original enough to
have warranted a patent and could hinder the Internet's growth by
blocking free, unpatented standards.
"The latest dustup is over a patent awarded last January to
Seattle-based Intermind, for its software to help Web surfers track
how sites they visit use their personal data. The company claims on
its Web site... that its patent may be infringed by an
"open-source," or freely shared, privacy protocol developed by the
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an industry and academic group
that comes up with standards like HTML, the language for writing
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