XML Paper Specification Licensing Overview

Provides information about Microsoft's current plans to license the XML Paper Specification (XPS), which defines an open document format that uses XML and other industry standards to create a cross-platform document format.

Important  If your printer is not working properly and the problem has something to do with Open XML Paper Specification or the Microsoft XPS Document Writer, please see Fix Printer Problems.


Explanation of XML Paper Specification License

This paper provides information about the Microsoft license for the XML Paper Specification (XPS), including background information on the Covenant Not to Sue provision, which applies to independent hardware vendors that develop printing devices that consume and scanning devices that create documents in XPS Document format (XPS Documents), and independent software vendors that creates Raster Image Processor and/or driver software that support these devices.


The XML Paper Specification (XPS) describes the format of a new general-purpose document made available by Microsoft to facilitate the easy exchange of documents between applications, platforms and hardware systems such as printers and scanners. XPS Documents offer a convenient alternative to paper documents for viewing, printing, transferring and archiving. The purpose of the specification is to provide the necessary information for developers to build software and hardware to create and consume XPS Documents. The specification is the reference document that details the document structure and rules that XPS Documents must satisfy for compatibility and interoperability.


Microsoft freely licenses XPS technology to encourage its use as general-purpose documents. Microsoft grants a royalty-free copyright license to copy, display, and distribute the XML Paper Specification. Microsoft also grants a royalty-free patent license to read, write and render XPS Documents. Execution of the licenses is straightforward and does not require the company to sign and return the license agreement. There is a requirement that any XPS implementation that is distributed, licensed or sold contain a notice in the source code of the implementation indicating that Microsoft may have intellectual property associated with the implementation and to provide a link to where the license may be obtained from Microsoft. The patent license also includes a covenant not to sue provision for companies engaged in certain businesses; the provision contents and reasoning are explained below.

Covenant Not to Sue Provision

To ensure that any feedback that Microsoft received in the early stages of developing the specification would not create intellectual property concerns in the industry, Microsoft includes a narrow Covenant Not to Sue (CNS) provision.

This CNS provision only applies to companies engaged in the following businesses:

  • Independent Hardware Vendors (IHVs) focusing on printing technologies that consume XPS Documents in printers
  • IHVs focusing on scanning technologies that create XPS Documents with scanners
  • Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that support the above types of IHVs through the development of Raster Image Processors (RIPs) and drivers

Companies that fall outside of these three classifications are not subject to the CNS provision.

The CNS provision itself pertains only to a company's intellectual property conceived or derived based on the company's access to the XML Paper Specification.

Please see the XML Paper Specification Patent and Copyright Licenses for more details.



Send comments about this topic to Microsoft