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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WTF?

Is this a rat I smell?

http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/473021

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Anonymous Coward

Hang on....

...does this mean all I have to do is make up a company, i dunno eyeforeye inc. Find some common and obvious software technology that hasn't been patented, I dunno, formatting text or something stupid. Patent it and then sue the nuts of everyone to get some cash?

Sounds like a good business model to me!

What a complete farce!

n.b. Obviously, I've not bothered to research the actual patent in question, who i4i are, or any detail other than this article, so my plan maybe completely silly!

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Happy

their EU fine?

is that paid yet?

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WTF?

Wow....

Anyone who read about this and did a search on the patent (one of the Tech Republic articles had the patent number) will understand why none of the tech articles are reporting on what the patent includes. Because the patent is so vague and poorly written it should never have been granted in the first place.

Basically, if you have a document and you want to store the data in a format where you declare the formatting and the document and where it starts and ends in a metadata storage medium you're in violation of the patent.

If you store your document as

<Document>

This patent SUCKS

</Document>

You're in violation.

If you store your document as

"Doc"

"Start"

"This patent " ***BOLD*** "SUCKS"

"End"

"Doc End"

You're still in violation.

It's like patenting the number 1.

It's insane.

Should never have been issued at all.

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Thumb Down

I'd stop them selling office 2007

...for that atrocious GUI alone.

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FAIL

i4i Patent; Software patents BAD

Here is the number and link to the patent: 7,206,968

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=2&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=i4i&OS=i4i&RS=i4i

The problem here is that, in the deep part of the text, there is a claim for "a schematic memory for storing XML types". This seems to be the ability to store, in memory, storing XML _types_ in a schema format. What? The rest of the patent deals with "segment faults" in an industrial settings being integrated and displayed with MS Word. That is probably why MS is dragged in first. However, this might apply to many, many applications utilizing XML in a similar way. Yay, great; where's my shotgun?...

Software patents should, like the enlightened British Isles, be classified as a "business process", which should not be valid for patenting.

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WTF?

Also, any of you LinuxBots....

Please refrain from dancing on Microsoft's grave. This patent is a serious danger to any Linux apps that store their data in a document and store the formatting in that same document. It's ludicrous.

The only way to avoid it is if the data storage is done in a compiled medium. That's how the previous versions of Word got away.

They only brought the case against Word because now that they've won, they can go back after all the Office Suite, any Linux apps, any custom written apps that store their data in the open XML formats.

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WTF?

Ironic strangeness

SO....i4i's lawsuit creates an injunction preventing (in theory) MS Word from being sold from within (or imported into) the United States where Microsoft is based.

Meanwhile, back in Canada, i4i's happy home, punters can continue to purchase MS Word and import it.

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VI too

Anything that does anything with XML should be included in such a context as this 'Lawsuit" depicts. Programers text editiors, Admin web portals, web browsers with editing facilities like netscape maybe?

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Anonymous Coward

@ John70

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

Actualy probably not, but IANAL so I might be wrong. This patent covers customisation of the XML schema that you store data in. The ODF format as it now stands specifically excludes customisation of the XML schema (one of the big differences between ODF and OOXML). So theoretically ODF is safe.. possibly.

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Pirate

If MS buys i4i to resolve this...

...then MS can use the same patent to shut down ALL other implementations that use extensible XML and force them to pay license.

Ohhhh, this one is going to get nasty before it gets better. Don't be surprised if Oracle, EFF, ISO, etc. don't file some amicus briefs on this one. Which SIDE they file on is going to be pretty interesting: for Microsoft to protect XML from patent abuse, or for i4i to attack Microsoft's OOXML patents that compromise open standards.

Also, hasn't anyone wondered about the company name - i4i (read as "(An) eye for (an) eye"? Or do they need to be more obvious for us south-of-the-border folks with something like "Jolly Roger Patent Trolls, LLC"?

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Bod
Flame

End software patents now

Nuff said.

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FAIL

It'll all end in tears ...

If you read the filing the lawyers name is a certain Mike McKool ....

And it is a crappy patent, it's like trying to patent hash tables or indexed files.

Thank god the IEEE stepped in or somebody would be claiming patents on all floating point numbers by now.

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Gates Horns

like that's going to last

Microsoft has bought judges before, it'll buy judges again. They'll have the injunction reversed before next week. A Canadian company doesn't have a chance in a politically motivated American courtroom. Courtrooms whose judges are either elected or whose appointments are dependent on political backroom dealing. This is now a high profile case, and you can bet that Microsoft is going to call in a couple of markers to make sure the next judge who sees this follows the party line.

Mind you, this is the same company that continues to push for software patents. I doubt they'll stop doing that either, knowing that the system they're pushing for usually favours the rich and powerful companies. Such as Microsoft.

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FAIL

No Potential About It

"Not being able to sell Word would potentially hurt sales of Office."

Not being able to sell Word will *definitely* hurt sales of Office. Word and Excel are the only reasons to buy Office, there is far superior software available that can replace the rest of the package, especially if you are a personal or small business user and haven't bought the Professional version.

Yes people use Project, Power Point and Access - some are even stupid enough to spend money on Exchange servers and pay Microsoft instead of using superior products that do the exact same thing but with far less overhead and disk space and with far more reliability.

Any business that requires Office installed on their PCs will also require that all documentation is created and modified using Word or Excel. Only companies that have no standards or organisation will allow people to use whatever they feel like and even then they'll probably insist the documents created are compatible with those products.

People are obviously going to bring up Open Office and it's ability to do the same thing. But that's completely missing the point. The point is whether or not Office will lose sales if it doesn't include Word. Of course it will. You don't buy a product that doesn't include the software you bought the product for.

If you're going to do your work with Open Office, why are you buying Microsoft Office? It's like being given a BMW and then buying a Mercedes without a steering wheel to do your driving because you like the colour of the Mercedes better. The argument you can take the steering wheel out of the free car and install it in the one you bought is kind of retarded.

I suppose the best part about this would be that their rivals could use the same kind of FUD that Microsoft created for Linux. Why not suggest that any business that uses software that violates a patent might find themselves liable too? It doesn't have to be true to work, just look at how many businesses SCO managed to scam money from. And these weren't small businesses, they kept SCO running for years.

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Anonymous Coward

Let's hope the ruling stands

It would be great to see Microsucks held accountable for some of their crimes.

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FAIL

What the...

Could that jury be any more retarded?

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Silver badge

@raving angry loony

Federal Judges are appointed for life. Its hard to remove Federal judge remove . No Back room dealings to become a Federal judge. %99 of all Federal judges were Federal prosecutors.

But sense you know so much please tell me how the process to become a federal judge happens and how you remove a federal judge from the bench ?

Oh yeah why don't you comment on the merits of the case instead of your anti-American stance .

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Swiping from small companies

Microsoft's problem is they like to use technology developed by other companies without paying them for their technology instead forcing them into litigation until the smaller company has to sell out due to legal expenses. This though hasn't always worked for them if anyone remembers the lawsuit against them by a small company named STAC that had developed fast compression software. What we don't know is what MS might have known about this company before hand. Its hard to believe that MS didn't know about the existence of this patent when they were preparing their XML patent.

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Flame

That patent

should never have been granted. Here it is if you want to have a look: http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5787449/fulltext.html

Flames because that's what should be done with all software patents.

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Software patents are bunk.

In 1980, the US Supreme Court declared (in a 5 to 4 vote) that patents could be granted for genetically engineered bacteria. This was a farce to begin with, but the US Patent and Trade Office took this to mean that it was also okay to grant patents to software, and this has now stood as established precedent for nearly three decades. Madness has ensued.

Patents were meant to protect innovation and invention. Now, they serve as a means to destroy competition, and the proliferation of frivolous patents on things that should never have been patentable--DNA and now even algorithms, things no human should dare claim to have invented--has populated many a litigious arsenal, and these have, time and time again, been used to force payments on the order of several million dollars out of companies who ended up on the wrong end of the sword.

Furthermore, I doubt the US Patent and Trade Office is exactly reluctant to accept patent fees that, once all is said and done, quite often amount to something on the order of several thousand dollars per patent--and they issue hundreds of thousands of the things per year. Perhaps it sounds like I'm wearing a tinfoil hat here, but I think that sounds like a wee bit of an incentive.

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FAIL

OFFS!

"custom XML" covers the ability to "define your data using XML Schema syntax, and then you can use that data in your Office documents."

And they were granted a patent for that !?!?!?

Surely the whole point of XML is to enable free data interchange between vendors.

It's a good job Basic's out of copyright otherwise we'd have a rash of these parasitic trolls trying to patent FOR loops and GOTO commands...

10 PRINT "FAIL"

20 GOTO 10

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Silver badge
Joke

Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeroes

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/29130

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Gates Halo

No kidding, Sherlock!

"US lawyers are renowned for shopping around to find friendly judge and jury systems"

Why else would a company based in one part of America (ie Microsoft) threaten to take EU citizens to court in another part of America (SoCal) if we do anything dubious with "their" computer? (I pay for the machine, I own the software on it; I'm not renting it even the crappy OS!)

I doubt it's because MS really want to pay for me to have a vacation in The Land of the Emission-Free...

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Bronze badge
Unhappy

i4i?

(an) EYE FOUR (an) EYE?

Are they serious? And they are trying to own something that goes right to the heart of the way every computer in existence stores and processes data with a vaguely-worded "patent" that is little more than a rather obvious attempt to cash in on someone (anyone) else's hard work thus allowing the "patent-holder" to get loads of money for doing fsck-all themselves...

And to all those FOSS supporters rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of Microsoft getting some of their own back, I say this; once MS crash and burn in the courts and have to pay these bottom-feeders off, who will actually pay the money when i4i point out that they've won against Microsoft so have legal precedent for claiming from *anyone* who infringes their patent...

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Jobs Horns

What's the worst that will happen?

Microsoft pay loads of money out in various directions and get what they want.

We all know the harsh reality, i.e.: it's the devils playground.

But the meek inherit the earth, eh Steve?

I keep saying this, but eventually we will look back and laugh at the "Microsoft years".

They are starting down the road of open source with HyperV.

You know, sometimes your biggest enemies can become your biggest fans.

I've just got out of my TARDIS and can tell you in 2032 Microsoft are taking IBM to court for breach of the GPL. RMS is on the board and Linus is their chief architect.

Shame about Steve, though, poor soul.

They eventually disbanded pirate bay and he lost everything.

He's having a hard time inside for all the child snuff.

SwineAir is doing good business with long haul flights.

The weather report says Hades is down to -40 today ;-)

oh and @AC: You talk(post) too much. You need to stop.

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Alert

Read N2's comment again...

They can't sell it but they can give it away. Just like Internet Explorer or Media Player. So you may shortly see Office being marketed as "containing a free copy of Microsoft Word"...

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Alert

Prior Art

Not sure if anyone cares, but my boss has at least 4 things he can site as Prior art sitting on his desk. Yeah they're technical and related to either drawing graphs, working with Mass Spectrometers, or dealing with Raw data (and it's markup) ... some of them head back towards the 70's :)

Not that we'd go out of our way to tell Microsoft that though :)

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