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CICS and Patents

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How do you access you're CICS data? Is it thru plain old BMS and a 3270 terminal? Or perhaps you are using SOAP or HTTP via CWS?
Whatever it is you are doing, or planning to do, do not convert you're BMS maps in CICS to XML before presenting it to the enduser.
If you do do that, put a call in to you're legal department and ask them to take a look at
U.S. Patent Number 6,981,257 B2.

Here is an abstract of the patent:

System, method and apparatus to allow communication between CICS and non-CICS software applications

A system, method and apparatus to facilitate the invocation of existing CICS BMS transactions and deliver the executed transaction output to a requesting application as a standardized XML document. Building upon a facility which intercepts the flow of control between a user transaction and BMS, the instant invention replaces the use of terminal-oriented data streams with XML documents. In doing so, the instant invention eliminates the use of prior art techniques, such as "screen scraping".

For those of you in Europe take note and look at EP1379947 before you dismiss this as an US only patent. And then call the legal department.

In searching the USPTO.GOV site this is the only patent that shows up if you search on the word 'CICS'. So this is a first and please feel free to correct me if this is not true.

Now I am not a Lawyer and I do not know a lot about patents but I do know that a patent holder can claim financial compensation from any entity using a process similar to what is describe in a patent.

This brings up some questions :
What is the potential impact of this patent on how corporation will and can use CICS?
How will this impact future CICS application development if at all?
Will this be the first of many software patents for CICS?
How far will Hostbridge go to enforce the Patent?
Does this patent prevent IBM from building a BMS to XML converter into CICS?
More importantly does this patent prevent me from taking an existing 3270 application in my shop and XML enable it without re-writing the presentation logic?

I am not a big fan of software patents and maybe the vendor had valid reasons for patenting this BMS to XML conversion but I do not think software patents on how CICS data is moved thru CICS and presented to my clients is a good idea.