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… and put so much more succinctly than my own effort:
Kurt Cagle in his post Patent Nonsense, reflects on the Microsoft patent application covering the serialisation/de-serialisation of XML documents. His description:

It’s why I’m both startled and saddened to see that Microsoft recently was awarded yet another patent from the US Government, for, of all things, serializing and deserializing objects using XML. The patent, United States Patent 6,898,604 was awarded to Microsoft on May 24, 2005. Significantly, it was also first filed on June 29, 2001, meaning that Microsoft didn’t so much invent a new process but chose to claim it even though other people were already utilizing it fairly
extensively at that point.

Kurt posits that the misuse and abuse of the patents system in the US will result in innovative individuals and companies leaving the States for environments which value the freedom to innovate more (and he puts his money where his mouth is, having shifted to Canada from the States). This particularly concerns me, given that Australia has entered a Free Trade Agreement with the US which extends recent US copyright and patent regimes to our domestic market. As a small economy with a significant dependency on innovation, the last thing Australia needs is to drive off innovators by emulating the deeply-flawed patent model in use in the US.

At the end of his post, Kurt asks

Is this what Microsoft is really after?

I’m not sure I want to hear the answer …