I am case studying a software patent. It talks about the method and apparatus to get XML data into a relational database (RDBMS), and vice versa. It talks about:
1. A mapping specification, which defines how the XML fields are to be mapped to the columns and tables in the relational database.
2. An engine that executes this specification to import XML into RDBMS or export data from RDBMS into XML.
Now my question is: what is protected? The specific way of mapping and executing this mapping, or the general idea of "simply having a mapping specification between XML and relational database"?
In other words, if I have a software method and apparatus, that uses a different way of mapping XML to the RDBMS and executing the mapping, which is definitely not derived or taught out of the original patent, and the resulting software product is more advanced and powerful than the original one, will it be rejected as a patent because it is also about "having a mapping specification between XML and RDBMS"?
If yes it sounds unfair, because the general ideal of "having a mapping specification between XML and RDBMS" is quite obvious and any software person would have known it - even if you are the first guy who raise your hand to the PTO it doesn't mean everyone else must since shut up.
To me what is protected should be the specific way of defining and executing the mapping - that's the value-adding part. Knowing that "one can define a mapping and executing it" is totally useless unless you can come up with a practical design. This leaves room for creation - if someone else comes up with a different mapping and execution scheme that is better than yours, then he can be rewarded.
What are the expert opinions?