Are developers really free to implement binary Office formats?

It's a question worth asking and a question I get asked several times a month. Shortly after the OOXML scandal, MSFT published the "Open Specification Promise" (OSP) that covers not just OOXML but a whole batch including the MSFT's "historical" office file formats. These are the binary formats , not the xml based ones, the .doc, .xls and .ppt that are still widely used today.

Now if you go back up one level inside Microsoft's published documentation (the documentation published after their European anti-trust lawsuit), you will see that aside covering rather essential areas of MSFT technologies such as Windows server and Sharepoint protocols. The introduction , however, is not clear. One the one hand it says that "These specifications may be accessed without charge and without restriction on this MSDN Library." But going on to the next sentence we read that "Many of the technical specifications, however, include patented inventions. Some of those patents are available at no charge under the Open Specification Promise. The remaining patents are available through various licensing programs. ". Which thus means that there are parts of these specs that are not covered by the OSP and that developers can't implement. Did I get this right? Shouldn't we ask MSFT to publish the remaining documentation and get rid of these legal limits (and patents)?

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