Microsoft has a patent pending in NZ for a Word-processing document stored in a single XML file that may be manipulated by applications that understand XML.
They've said "If we don't patent something that we've invented or developed someone else would". They invented? Huh? Storing a document in XML isn't a new invention - given that XML derives from HTML you could easily argue that storing a structured document was the first intended use of XML! The use of XML for data interchange between software components (I think) was a secondary use. This patent (pending) is a good example of the flaws of Intellectual Property assignment - there is no invention here, there is prior use, it is a trivial application of technology, and the only "benefit" of this sort of assignment is to increase the defensive patent portfolio of large companies (to be used to squash small companies).
I readilly accept IP if there is real invention, but that's not happening here. But I strongly dislike IP assignments for trivial things because it stiffles innovation industry-wide - imagine if IP was assigned for mathematical discoveries? We'd be living in single story buildings, using candles and riding horses.