"Given the existence of prior art, patent applications
that lay claim to widely used methods should be shot down during
their application process, but that hasn't stopped even big
companies from trying, or the Patent Office for granting them.
Microsoft's seen both sides of this problem recently, as it was
granted one patent for storing formatting information in XML files,
and faced a damaging injunction for violating someone else's patent
on the same general thing.
"In a bit of awkward timing, it was recently discovered that,
two years ago, Microsoft filed a patent for clustering
phylogenetics methods, which have existed for years, and are
currently in use by just about anyone who does evolutionary
biology. The filing has been compared to attempting to patent
multiplication tables, and has the phylogenetics community on
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