back to article Microsoft at a loss in Word patent case?

Time to take a breath following the "landmark" injunction against Microsoft over alleged infringement of an XML patent in Word. Never mind a US jury has found that Microsoft willfully violated an XML patent in its ubiquitous Word application and the case judge fined the company $200m. Microsoft's no stranger to patent …

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cocaine is a helluva drug

Wait a min did Rick James write this article.....

"And on a larger scale, it's likely this is the end for Word for Microsoft, its partners, or millions of users."

"This i4i ruling is not the end of the Word or the lucrative Office franchises. "

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At a loss

There was a great opportunity for a "Lost for Word" pun here.

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I wonder if...

I wonder if this will hurt microsofts plans to get its document format as an industry standard?

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I don't think the judge ruled based on the patent case

I think the judge has had to use MS Word 2007 and took this opportunity to try and kill the damn thing whilst he (/she) had the chance....

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Paris Hilton

the end of "word"

You mean something besides the garbage that IS MS Word might kill off MS Word first?

I doubt that the courts will be that fast. What is Word 2007/2008 is such a steaming pile - and it is worse than 2003/2004..... So with the next release, I expect Word to be completely bolloxed.

PH because she has a much better interface.

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Silver badge

Karma

Perhaps now they'll campaign for software to be excluded from patents? Didn't think so.

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Software Patents - Bad!

This is yet another example of why all software patents should not exist. They stifle advances in software development.

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WTF?

What makes the Canadians think anybody here will care?

How do they even have any standing in a Texas court. Let alone the public opinion of a Canadian company trying to battle it out with an American company. Where are our pro-American Texans to set them straight? In a place like that, I'd expect to see the judge personally telling them to go back up to Cannuckland and leave our American software products alone. With all my ranting aside, there should be a limitation on patent claims so the plaintiffs can't wait 6 years after billions of dollars worth of product are sold to step in and say "wait a minute...that's our technology." I'd say if they didn't file this suit by 2004 (more than a year after Word 2003 came out), they shouldn't even be allowed to complain, let alone sue over it.

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Paris Hilton

This would mean

No more MS Office in the USA?

Paris because she prefers Open Office anyways

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Alert

Never mind Microsoft...

...just tell me if this is likely to impact OpenOffice at all.

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Gates Halo

Wait, what?

It's early so I may have misread that, but have they patented the X in XML? Because if you can't customise it it ain't eXtensible.

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FAIL

So

who owns the patent for custom HTML ??? They're sitting on a potential goldmine for the dumbass American legal system!

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Grenade

WTF?

The patent office that granted this one should be investigated. It is so generic! This could be a problem for FOSS too, as well as the hundreds of products that rely on XML in this way.

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SkateNY

It's about time Microsoft got punished for their arrogant failings. Problem is, as always, they'll probably buy themselves out of this one.

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Jobs Halo

Perfect!

Do I still get two more wishes?

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Stop

The real issue...

..is that this case shows up just show damned stupid software patents are. Ignoring the rights or the wrongs of the judge's decision this case shows that the US patent system is broken. MS have lots of software patents, and just got one for some of the XML manipulation that lies at the heart of the OOXML ISO standard. Many, if not all of these patents should never have been granted.

Microsoft and other large American companies are trying to persuade the EU to embrace software patents claiming that software patents encourage innovation.

I hope that this latest farce, and that is what it is, is enough to make people in the UK and EU realise that software patents are just wrong. If people don't stop the EU changing the law then expect to see this sort of waste of everyone's time and money happening in a court room near you.

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Linux

D'oh!

Will Microsoft never learn to use open standards?

Will Microsoft ever learn that they don't own the world's computers, and can't just take what they want?

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Silver badge

Ruling?

This is only a legal ruling. It won't have much effect.

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Alert

Normal application of XML

Not knowing the exact details, this 'custom XML' sounds like a normal application of XML Schema with processing in the application. I don't see how this is patentable, or such.

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As usual with software patents..

Nobody seems able to report what the patent entails.

Custom XML? Does that mean invalid XML with additional MS features, incompatible with competing products? Or use of valid XML to describe a word processor document?

Is there any chance that the same patent would apply to similar products?

But above all: Who the &*($^ are i4i and what great technological discovery (assuming it's not just using XML to describe arbitrary data, which is what XML is for in the first place) have they been allowed to patent?

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Paris Hilton

Buy it?

Can a patent be bought?

(I'd have thought so - it's just another commodity)

On the other hand if the motivation is mischievous/malicious can MS request some review to protect itself, shareholders, customers, retailers, distributors, ... from effect and consequence of malicious actions?

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Thumb Up

No great hardship then

"Cannot sell or import..." So licensing and exporting like they've been doing till now are both still okay then?

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Wait....

You mean they are at a loss for Words?

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N2

Too bad

If they cant sell Word, theyll have to give it away for free.

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Unhappy

Doesn't this just show

how f**ked "Justice" is, if you have the abilty to pick and choose where case is heard in order to get the best result for the client?

Justice should be a level palying field, where no matter you are, where it is tried, the results should be consistant.

But as we all know, justice is never equal.

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Banned from Spreading the Word !?!

Now that's a shame ...

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Uncertainty

The snag for Microsoft here is that customers may be worried what might happen to Word/Office and Microsoft in the future and this may affect their purchasing decisions. Delaying the injunction and seeking to extend the legal process might actually hurt Microsoft more if they start losing customers due to the uncertainty. I would have thought they would be better off stomping up cash quickly to make the whole issue go away.

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Linux

there goes open office too

guess this applies to open office too.

dont you just love patents -

but hey they cant get money from open source. Sorry forgot to be anti MS

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WTF?

I don't get it...

XML is an open standard that allows people to create structures and custom XML in any way that they want.

Gonna have to look up this patent as I think it affects more than Word. What about XMLSpy, any configurator for anything (hardware/software) that uses XML. What about any XHMTL editors - cause basically they are all XML.

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FAIL

"customers would be forced to find alternative products."

What would they be then? It's my understanding that OpenOffice also infringes this patent.

Maybe we'll be banned from downloading that too. Oh hang on. They haven't got any money have they?

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Joke

I'm not the to say it...

Bomb Canada!

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Gates Horns

parasitic lifeforms

where there's a large resource, there'll always be something making use of it. Flease on cats, Rhemoras on whalesharks, patent infringement suits on large Corporates.

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Alert

How does...

...this ruling affect OpenOffice, AbiWord etc? And how does it affect vendors of applications that integrate with Word and also rely on XML for content/metadata?

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Coat

may I be one of many to misquote...

It's the end of the Word as we know it and I feel fine.

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Potentially??

<<Not being able to sell Word would potentially hurt sales of Office>>

I must be a bit thick, suffering from 'flu - fortunately no smell of bacon yet - but 'potentially'????

It'll fuc*k Office. Can't believe I've missed something here. I really must be in 'flu-mode.

Christ-in-shitty-nappies, Openoffice.org/Sun must be jumping for joy.

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Dead Vulture

Of course they can release it...

... just not in Texas. But even there they can just do mail order from outside the state.

Perhaps finally after this idiotic ruling software companies over there might realise the corner they've painted themselves into with moronic software patents. Still, the only people it will hurt are US software companies, the rest of the world doesn't care and will just leave them at the wayside as other companies fly past unencumbered by a patent system designed by morons.

You have to laugh at how even in such a bad recession the US legal system is still slowly killing its own IT sector.

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There's some pretty good commments from Computerworld Blogwatch

http://blogs.computerworld.com/14536/you_cant_buy_ms_word_i4i_xml_patent_ruling

It's interesting to see that they went for Vista and .NET but settled to target Word. I'm pretty sure Microsoft will have to settle on this one.

I always knew the Canadians would out manoeuvre the US in something like this!

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Flame

So what about just trying to overturn the patent?

But maybe that is not a possible avenue to explore, as today just managing to find your own arse in a dark room is considered the mark of the American Genius.

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WTF?

But...i4i have an XML authoring tool based on Word...

http://www.i4i.com/x4o.htm

"x4o© - The One Step Solution to XML Authoring in Microsoft® Word"

eh?

I for one am amazed that these guys are getting away with this. How can you patent the use of data in angle brackets?

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Pint

This is getting old

Troll against troll . . most money wins. Big troll buys off small troll - settled.

<- Checks her software - pats her BSD boxes - feels sad for the average (l)user - GRINS !

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"Side-step the patent whilst paying them off"?

Erm, did I miss something here? The point of the patent is to *get* paid for your invention. i4i said "you owe us this much". MS said "we're giving you nothing". Court said "MS, pay this much". At some point, MS and i4i will meet in the middle. If MS are smart, this will involve paying i4i a price which i4i are prepared to accept. If MS aren't smart, they'll dig their heels in and the court will beat them with a big stick until they *do* pay something.

MS vs. Netscape is a good example of this. It tends to be presented as a victory for MS, which of course it was in terms of user-base. But AOL (who by that point owned Netscape) got a $750m payout from MS in exchange for dropping that one. Had MS settled earlier, that figure would have been a whole lot lower.

And even on American lawyers' rates, I doubt Netscape used three-quarters of a billion on the lawsuit, so that represents a solid profit. Sure you've lost your user-base - but do you really want to own the most widely-used web browser, which has precisely zero income (because you're giving it away) and which still needs a team of developers employed (because there are still new features to implement)? Or would you rather have a tax-free three-quarters of a billion dollars in your back pocket which you can invest somewhere that'll turn a real profit? Hmm, tough call...

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Stop

I think I've missed something here

but isn't the point of XML that you have that holding your data, use a schema to define it, and XSL to style it!?

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Bronze badge

Irony

And some people say that Americans don't get irony.

-A.

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Anonymous Coward

Original patent a farce

As much as we may not like Microsoft, the original patent is a farce. XML is designed to represent data, so for Microsoft to do so for a wordprocessing document is not original or novel.

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Gates Horns

Eolas II - The Revenge

How did anyone seriously get a patent on using XML to store data for a word processing application using a custom schema? That's just a normal application use of XML, like millions of apps use.

I'm not normally one to say this, but go Microsoft. Send in Bill and his mates with their baseball bats.

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Troll

Office: mac

Maybe the mac office update that broke xml office document compatibility wasn't a bug; it was just released too soon. DUM DUM DAAAAA.....!

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@The Douros

"Never mind Microsoft... #

By The Douros Posted Thursday 13th August 2009 04:22 GMT

...just tell me if this is likely to impact OpenOffice at all."

This ruling in theory should affect all Office applications (Excel with xlsx, Powerpoint ppx, etc)

Also Open Office and any other application that reads and writes XML will be affected under this ruling.

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you forgot

You forgot that contained in the evidence of the case, are a trail of Microsoft email messages clearly showing that they knew all along they were infringing this specific patent, but made no attempt to contact the owner and negotiate an agreement.

Personally, I hope the decision is upheld all the way. Having a major player, with a major product like this getting hurt that badly, is the only way everyone can finally agree that software patents are completely ridiculous and should be banned. Maybe finally the US Patent system can finally get the overhaul it desperately needs.

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Bronze badge

Drama? What drama

What happens is the big company try to out-gun the little company with lawyers and money. If the little company still has some fight in it, they may settle out-of-court on a licensing fee. Or they can buy the little company. Whatever. Little company makes some money from their patent and big company carries on as before.

Shame they didn't break up MS years ago, though.

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Paris Hilton

@George Schultz

That would be a "point and lick interface", right...?

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