Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Microsoft Announces Open Specification Promise

On September 12, Microsoft announced an "Open Specification Promise," effectively granting personal patent licenses to open source developers who may wish to utilize one or more of 35 web services specifications. See

This is fairly remarkable, given Microsoft's historical reluctance to do ANYTHING positive that relates to open source. However, note this disclaimer: "This promise is not an assurance either (i) that any of Microsoft's issued patent claims covers a Covered Implementation or are enforceable or (ii) that a Covered Implementation would not infringe patents or other intellectual property rights of any third party. No other rights except those expressly stated in this promise shall be deemed granted, waived or received by implication, exhaustion, estoppel, or otherwise." This means that the Promise may be meaningless if no Microsoft patents read on any of the specifications. I have not looked--you should, however, before you rely on the Promise to develop any apps that may implicate one or more of the covered specifications.

Caveat emptor!

Monday, September 11, 2006

ADA Applies to Websites, Patel Rules

In a decision with potentially far-reaching impact on website developers and owners, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel denied defendant Target Corporation’s Motion to Dismiss a lawsuit filed by the National Federation of the Blind and others alleging that the website violated regulations promulgated under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") by failing to offer full accessibility to site features and benefits to persons with vision impairment. Target had attempted to argue that the ADA did not apply to "nonphysical spaces" such as websites, but Judge Patel ruled that "to the extent that plaintiffs allege that the inaccessibility of impedes the full and equal enjoyment of goods and services offered in [brick and mortar] Target stores, the plaintiffs state a claim."

The decision has obvious implications to website owners and developers, who should now add the ADA to their checklist of things to consider when designing and operating a site.

See National Federation of the Blind, et al., v. Target Corporation, Memorandum & Order Re: Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, No. C 06-01802 MHP (ND Cal., September 5, 2006)