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If I were to create a commercially available program that read, created, and edited documents in these formats, would I have to pay any of the owners of these formats.

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closed as off topic by World Engineer, Tim Post, gnat, Dynamic, Walter Dec 10 '12 at 12:22

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Have you researched this at all? Doesn't sound like it. Suggest you spend some time looking at the politics/legalities of Open Office, etc... which handles all of these formats. –  gahooa Dec 10 '12 at 2:17
    
There are already open source and paid products that read these formats. Furthermore the doc standard has been made public, its thousands of pages long, but the standard has been made public. .docx is a xml archive format which also was made public. –  Ramhound Dec 10 '12 at 12:34
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2 Answers

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In general, the answer is no; formats are not copyrighted. Mostly they tend to be protected through obfuscation. E.g. Word 2010 -- it's not published, but LibreOffice does a pretty good job of reading/writing it, and I promise you they aren't paying M$ any money for the privilege.

However(!), IANAL. If this is just idle curiosity, then the answer doesn't matter much. If the answer to this question is important for a planned business ventures, then you should talk to a lawyer, and not a cheap one (cheap lawyers are the most expensive ones in the long run).

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The new Office formats (2007+) - DocX, XslX, PptX - are standards recognized by ISO and as such are well documented. Microsoft declared a "Covenant Not to Sue" about use of these formats.

See more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Docx

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