back to article Microsoft protests $290m Word judgment

A federal judge fundamentally misinterpreted a patent asserted against Microsoft Word, an error that should require a $290m infringement penalty to be overturned, attorneys for the software giant argued Wednesday. "I don't think there's been a fair reading of this patent and this trial history," Microsoft attorney Matthew Powers …

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No proof?

Since there's no proof that Microsoft employs anyone that understands programming, they may win that argument.

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Gates Horns

Microsoft Logic

"Microsoft attorneys acknowledged that the company had been in contact with i4i about the technology, but they said there was no evidence to prove anyone from the larger company actually read the patent."

Ok. We were in contact with i4i about the technology, paraded then as an innovative partner. Then we inadvertently included their technology in our product. But the violation of their patent was not willful because there is no evidence anyone in the l"larger company" actually read the patent.

Defies logic why this statement is not taken as an admission of guilt.

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Hands up who's surprised ?

Just another splattered bug on the windshield of the M$ juggernaut.

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Stop

Microsoft - WTF

"there was no evidence to prove anyone from the larger company actually read the patent."

OK, so is Microsoft saying that because no one read the patent that it somehow doesn't apply? Well OK then, I have never read any of their patents so I guess I can just go ahead and use any of there patented I.P?

Is that the defence? It’s like saying "sorry, I didn’t read the law about shoplifting so I can't be guilty of it!

Or am I being a bit thick (or should I read the whole article (or both)), probably :-)

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Say it's not so!

"Microsoft deliberately set out to [i4i] while publicly proclaiming the two were allies"? Impossible, I say. This is entirely out of character for the fine upstanding paragons of virture who lead this great company.

Bears shit in the woods? Impossible I say. This is entirely out of character for these fine and distinguished paragons of the animal kingdom.

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Proof reading

Its amazing how a comment that looked ok before pressing 'submit' is suddenly full of errors once 'submit' has been pressed and the comment is on the internet for all to see.

What I mean to write was :

- - - - -

"Microsoft deliberately set out to damage [i4i] while publicly proclaiming the two were allies"? Impossible, I say. This is entirely out of character for the fine, upstanding paragons of virture who lead this great company.

Bears shit in the woods? Impossible I say. This is entirely out of character for these fine and distinguished paragons of the animal kingdom.

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Linux

What a get out clause

"Microsoft attorneys acknowledged that the company had been in contact with i4i about the technology, but they said there was no evidence to prove anyone from the larger company actually read the patent. The claim is designed to counter a finding that the infringement was willful, which can substantially increase penalties in patent cases"

So the US Justice System you can get off with something or have a lighter sentence due to incompitence or sheer stupidity.

Lets see if the MS Lawyers hold the same opinion when a patent law is taken against a company by them, oh wait no need as they have already proven they are not so soft then.

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Anonymous Coward

Missing details

If I recall correctly, as part of their partnership MS had seen the source code implementing the i4i patent.

Once that had happened, the partnership swiftly ended. Claiming that they didn't know about any patents is "patent" bullshit!

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Anonymous Coward

@Jamie 19

The idea is that if you unintentionally infringe a patent you pay damages based on what you should have paid had you know about it. It's not meant to be a punishment because you weren't trying to do anything wrong. Given the number of patents on things you would think were obvious it's not hard to get into this situation.

If you deliberately infringe the patent then they calculate the damages as before, then treble them as punishment for intentionally doing something wrong.

The trouble is that even patent lawyers can be unable to determine the scope of a patent, and they're all but impenetrable to the engineers they're supposed to be informing. Even with a diligent patent search you're bound to miss a few that might be relevant. This makes infringement of a patent or two almost inevitable. Many smaller companies have decided that the safest course of action is not to look for patents, let alone read them, because at least that way you minimise the chance of getting hit for treble damages. So much for patents advancing technology...

Having said that, MS are big enough that they can afford to look at patents, and it seems extremely unlikely that they didn't know i4i had one in this area. Failure to read it under those circumstances sounds intentional to me.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Microsoft are stuffed

The "No-one read the patent" argument is just plain shite - it is either a lie, or there needs to be a serious clear-out of incompetents. Whichever, it should not constitute a defence.

Anyone trying to protect their IP through patents should fervently hope that this argument doesn't work, though - I, like most others, have never read a patent in my life, so if the argument stands, I can breach any patent registered in the USA with impunity!

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WTF?

Well, I have now read US Patent #5,787,449

And I believe it to be bunk.

It is apparently "Method and System for manipulating the architecture and content of a document separately from each other", filed in 1994

It describes parsing SGML and separating the meta content from the content, and being able to store and manipulate these in different locations.

The amount of prior art for this one is quite astounding.

On top of that, the algorithm so described is horrendously bad and I would be stunned if MS are actually using it.

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Thumb Up

Finally a wise IT ruling

AC has it right above, basically companies are penalized much more if they are found to have willfully infringed on a patent, rather than accidentally. The problem is many companies like M$ that make it a business practice to willfully infringe have taken the approach of doing all their patent research from home or on the sly so it can't be traced to M$.

In this particular case M$ was in direct talks with the company about their technology, and then released their own produced code that directly copied that companies technology. Purposeful ignorance is not a realistic defense. It is VERY obvious to anyone watching that they did indeed willfully infringe, hence the judges large $ ruling.

The part that disappoints me is this is so obvious of a willful infringement that I think there should have been JAIL TIME for the M$ officials who OBVIOUSLY committed perjury and should be held accountable for lying in court. 1-2 YEARS minimum.

Now that said, from the descriptions I have read this patent should have been absolutely rejected as an obvious invention. But it definitely is as defensible as any other software, or business practice patent. (all of which are legal but in my opinion very WRONG for society).

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WTF?

Hypocrisy on The Reg, surely not?

Patent trolls in all other cases get traduced, but if it's Microsoft on the other side, suddenly it's Big Bad Business against the Poor Injured Victim

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Gates Halo

What! No one here on Microsoft's side?

I can't believe no one here's on Microsoft's side. What a pleasure!

Here in the States, at least half of the posts would paint M$ as pure as driven snow.

But in case after case, if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, chances are it's a duck.

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Headmaster

@ Reg Varney

i4i isn't acting as a patent troll. They actually have products based on their patents.

http://www.i4i.com/

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Who's side?

I'm not on Microsoft's side...

But I'm against the i4i patent. IMHO the patent never should have been given.

So what should be argued is not whether MS infringed, but whether the patent is bogus trash.

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Anonymous Coward

@Who's side?

But the patent was given. i4i clearly did enough to convince the law that a patent was warranted. What's done is done.

They say that ignorance is no defence/excuse for breaking the law (if you start to type that into Google, it will suggest it), but how could Ms work with i4i and then do this? Basically, it seems like Ms is claiming stupidity, which Google suggests is not a crime. So they've just gotta convince a court that the multi-billion dollar company is stupid. Google suggests that Ms are a lot of things but it's not showing stupid yet.

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Pirate

We Didn't Read It, Honestly We Didn't

We didn't read it, honestly we didn't. We haven't even read most of our own million or so patents. The reason, oh, it's patently obvious that patents are patently boring reading.

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