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Regarding U.S. Patent No. 9,501,456 granted Nov 22, 2016.

It looks like auto-correct for XML to me. I am guessing this isn't new in any way. Is it really possible to patent a smaller domain application of a larger idea or concept?

Any prior art for that?

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It would seem that the patent is for a very specific implementation of automatic correction for XML documents. Here is the first claim.

  1. A method comprising:

    in a computing system having at least a processor, a memory and a display unit, detecting a location causing an error in a markup language document;

    displaying the location and the error in the markup language document on the display unit;

    analyzing the error in the markup language document and underlying causes of the error in the markup language document;

    computing a set of possible actions to remedy the error in the markup language document;

    displaying information about the error in the markup language document and its underlying causes on the display unit;

    displaying the set of possible actions to remedy the error in the markup language document on the display unit;

    receiving a user input selecting one of the possible actions to remedy the error in the markup language document;

    and replacing the location causing the error in the markup language document with the selected one of the possible actions to remedy the error in the markup language document,

    wherein the information about the error in the markup language document and its underlying causes comprises:

    a link to the error in the working XML file;

    a link to the corresponding definition(s) in an associated schema file;

    and links to relevant information in an applicable W3C specification.

To infringe on this patent, you have to implement each and every step of this claim. I don't think they are claiming auto correction in general and a peek at the cited documents shows 24 patents and applications including ones from Intel, IBM, Microsoft, Xerox, Samsung and Philips.

I'm not a patent attorney and I haven't studied the patent wrapper or cited patents, but I will say that US9501456 seems pretty straightforward to me and I'm not sure where the novelty is.

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"Quick Fix" isn't new at all.

Various editors have had this for a long time for a variety of languages (XML and otherwise). The oldest reference I found in 5 minutes of Googling was some documentation about how to implement Quick Fix for your programming language in Eclipse IDE (2009; https://wiki.eclipse.org/FAQ_How_do_I_implement_Quick_Fixes_for_my_own_language%3F).

Eclipse has been doing all of the above for ages:

  1. Detect an error: check
  2. Display the location and the error: check
  3. Compute possible remedies: check
  4. Display information about the error: check
  5. Displaying possible remedies: check
  6. Having the user select a remedy: check
  7. Actually fix the error: check (Eclipse offers a lot more options than just replacing the error with a fix, though)

The information about the error must contain the following:

  1. A link to the location of the error: check
  2. A link to the definition on the corresponding schema: not necessarily available in Eclipse. Depends on the implementation of the QuickFixer.
  3. Links to information in the W3C specification: For Java, this is usually a link to the relevant JavaDoc or whatever the equivalent of that is in the language being edited.

The difference between the functionality that has been patented and the long existing prior art seems to be providing links to XML Schema and W3C standards. Since existing Quick Fix functionality already provides for links to documentation, I cannot understand how this could in any way be described as "new".

Even though this isn't patenting "Auto Correct" in general, it is narrowing a long existing functionality (instead of for various languages, it's just XML now) and calling that new. My common sense tells me this patent is trivial. The functionality itself is not, but this patent was filed long after many IDEs had already been offering Quick Fix functionality for years.

[edit] After searching around a little more, I found the patent 7657832 - Correcting validation errors in structured documents as a pretty clear example of prior art from 2003.

  • The patent that you found US7657832 was cited in the prosecution of the patent in question. That means the patent examiner was aware of it. To get an idea what the examiner thought while examining the patent application, you could look it in PUBLIC PAIR at the USPTO. It will show all of the correspondence between the applicant and the examiner. – George White Oct 13 '18 at 16:57

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