Topic: A judge on Tuesday ordered Microsoft to stop selling Microsoft Word in the U.S.  (Read 15428 times)

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A judge on Tuesday ordered Microsoft to stop selling Microsoft Word products in their current form in the U.S., but legal appeals or technical work-arounds make an actual halt of sales unlikely.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas gave Microsoft 60 days to comply with the injunction, which forbids Microsoft from selling Word products that let people create custom XML documents, according to i4i. The ruling, which also includes additional damages Microsoft must pay, are related to a patent infringement suit filed by i4i
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Offline toasty0

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I guess XML is not as open as a standard as I thought. Or could the judge be wrong...*gasp*

I wonder when someone will sue MS for incorporating HTML "forms", DDLs, or textboxes into Word?

And I really enjoyed this response to the article:

If Microsoft played the rules we would have had a lot more choices in the software we purchase.

Novell would have been a great company and we wouldn't be forced to REINSTALL everything when new operating systems come out like Windows 7.


i4i (interesting name) company is suing Microsoft to "limit" its use of XML in its software product and this mental giant posts that? Does he even comprehend?

And it is obvious he knows nothing about Windows 7 except how to spell it.
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Offline Bonk

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Gee, I wonder why i4i has not targeted php/pecl, openoffice.org, KDE, Gnome, vi, vim, emacs, notepad++ ... ::) The list of OSS software capable of creating custom XML goes on and on. (ignoring the fact that the whole concept of XML is friggin retarded)

This is such an obvious and transparent patent troll. If i4i is successful with this suit, then I think it will be the end of proprietary software. Hmmm, maybe this is not a bad thing. The end of XML and proprietary software all in one shot! I smell a conspiracy. A good one.

Another point for OSS: non-profit = not attractive to patent trolls. I never was comfortable with people reselling OSS for profit either. I remember when I discovered RedHat was SELLING Linux in 1999, I was completely horrified and thought they'd never last. Well, incredibly they've thrived. They'll be one of the next targets as if these guys win this against MS they'll hit Apple next, then work their way down the foodchain until there is no profit in further suits. Good chance they'd hit Sun too.

Software has to be free, that is all there is to it. Especially with the growing trend of embedded applications being used in everyday appliances.

You know, at this point I don't think I'll ever buy a car or cellphone unless I can see all the source. (Or get/build old fashioned gear that has no software in it).

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Gee, I wonder why i4i has not targeted php/pecl, openoffice.org, KDE, Gnome, vi, vim, emacs, notepad++ ... ::) The list of OSS software capable of creating custom XML goes on and on. (ignoring the fact that the whole concept of XML is friggin retarded)


OSS software has an advantage over Microsoft.  Sites like Groklaw.  People will follow such cases and look for ways to help, such as finding prior art.  So far proprietary software companies haven't inspired that type of volunteer aid.

This is such an obvious and transparent patent troll. If i4i is successful with this suit, then I think it will be the end of proprietary software. Hmmm, maybe this is not a bad thing. The end of XML and proprietary software all in one shot! I smell a conspiracy. A good one.


I have to agree, it is a troll.  In a way it is poetic justice though, Microsoft used to oppose software patents and now they are for them.  If they are victim enough perhaps they will change back to opposing and put their considerable wealth into the fight against software patents.

Another point for OSS: non-profit = not attractive to patent trolls. I never was comfortable with people reselling OSS for profit either. I remember when I discovered RedHat was SELLING Linux in 1999, I was completely horrified and thought they'd never last. Well, incredibly they've thrived. They'll be one of the next targets as if these guys win this against MS they'll hit Apple next, then work their way down the foodchain until there is no profit in further suits. Good chance they'd hit Sun too.


Technically Redhat does not sell Linux but instead sells services for Linux.

Software has to be free, that is all there is to it. Especially with the growing trend of embedded applications being used in everyday appliances.


I think that any software category that becomes mature will eventually have a mature OSS competitor which unless there is a successful vendor lock in will ultimately take over substantial market share.

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Offline Bonk

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Technically Redhat does not sell Linux but instead sells services for Linux.

I was horrified when I saw it in a box, on a shelf, for $50 in 1999. I asked the salesman, he said it was legit.

Still doesn't feel right to me.

Offline _Rondo_GE The OutLaw

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If they hadn't dropped the ball on all the anti-trust suits against MS these same predatory practices wouldn't have been continued.

Offline Bonk

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Exactly the converse, just the legal profession demonstrating its complete lack of technical knowledge once again. That won't stop them though, there are hours to be billed! The whole anti-trust suit against MS was a farce, and always will remain so in my memory. It's all about governments recouping windows licensing costs.

More good reasons to keep money out of important software, the law will just get in there and muck it up like they do everything else. To be honest I would not be surprised to see an effort to ban OSS for this very reason, for profit is an instrument of control.

I can explain my debunking of the MS anti-trust suit in detail if need be.

Why doesn't the government sue Agilent because only their software will run their mass spectrometers? I want a choice! (Total sarcasm) I guess because of the volume involved, the licensing costs do not merit the legal effort to recoup the cost.

(conspiracy theory hat screwed on tight tonight ;))

Offline toasty0

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More info about this suit including the filings: http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/archives/176223.asp

In its complaint (PDF), i4i alleges Microsoft willingly violated its 1998 patent (No. 5,787,449) on a method for reading XML. The company, whose Web site advertises that users can "Create and edit XML content in Microsoft Word," helps clients work with XML.


 :D
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In a written ruling, Judge Leonard Davis, of U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas, chastised Microsoft's attorneys for repeatedly misrepresenting the law in presentations to jurors.

"Throughout the course of trial Microsoft's trial counsel persisted in arguing that it was somehow improper for a non-practicing patent owner to sue for money damages," Davis wrote.

The judge cited a particular incident in which a Microsoft lawyer compared plaintiff i4i, Inc. to banks that sought bailout money from the federal government under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

"He further persisted in improperly trying to equate i4i's infringement case with the current national banking crisis implying that i4i was a banker seeking a 'bailout'," Davis said.


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Offline toasty0

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  • If this was so improper what was the the trial judge doing to curb all this "improper" activity during closing arguments. At best a new trial should be called for, but to punish the attorney for conduct clearly allowed by the persiding judge is legal lunacy.
  • So far, from what is posted I don't see this district judge actually addressing the 'facts' of the case
  • Isn't this a state judge finding for a local company?
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Offline Bonk

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  • Isn't this a state judge finding for a local company?

That would explain it.

Sarcasm: I have an old Underwood typewriter, upon which I can write XML documents.  :o Oh Noes! i4i can sue me!  :P
... oh wait, my pen and paper, you better take that... and um in the interests of completeness I believe a lobotomy is required, as I can still compose XML in my head without putting it to "paper".

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  • If this was so improper what was the the trial judge doing to curb all this "improper" activity during closing arguments. At best a new trial should be called for, but to punish the attorney for conduct clearly allowed by the persiding judge is legal lunacy.
  • So far, from what is posted I don't see this district judge actually addressing the 'facts' of the case


This was the appeal.  The case has now been found against Microsoft twice by different judges.  They can still appeal to higher courts.

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As noted earlier, Microsoft has several options, including legal appeals, pursuing a settlement, or recrafting Word in a way so that it doesn't infringe on I4i's technology.


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Owen said he couldn't comment on whether there have been any recent settlement talks. Asked whether there might be room for some sort of partnership between the two companies, Owen quipped: "Microsoft is too big for us to buy at this point."


The Owen quoted in the article has sold at least one prior company to Microsoft so he might be after doing so again. 

i4i does make products based on this patent so they don't actually qualify as patent trolls.  They are just using (and arguably abusing) the U.S. patent system to protect their products and possibly force MS to buy them.

  • Isn't this a state judge finding for a local company?


No.

Contact information for i4i:

Quote
Corporate Offices:
116 Spadina Avenue, Fifth Floor
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5V 2K6

Tel: 416.504.0141
Fax: 416.504.1785


In Canada software patents are not valid so this Canadian company did the patenting in the U.S. and used East Texas because that region is notorious for awarding large damages in patent cases.
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Offline toasty0

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  • If this was so improper what was the the trial judge doing to curb all this "improper" activity during closing arguments. At best a new trial should be called for, but to punish the attorney for conduct clearly allowed by the persiding judge is legal lunacy.
  • So far, from what is posted I don't see this district judge actually addressing the 'facts' of the case


This was the appeal.  The case has now been found against Microsoft twice by different judges.  They can still appeal to higher courts.

Link to full article
Quote
As noted earlier, Microsoft has several options, including legal appeals, pursuing a settlement, or recrafting Word in a way so that it doesn't infringe on I4i's technology.


Quote
Owen said he couldn't comment on whether there have been any recent settlement talks. Asked whether there might be room for some sort of partnership between the two companies, Owen quipped: "Microsoft is too big for us to buy at this point."


The Owen quoted in the article has sold at least one prior company to Microsoft so he might be after doing so again. 

i4i does make products based on this patent so they don't actually qualify as patent trolls.  They are just using (and arguably abusing) the U.S. patent system to protect their products and possibly force MS to buy them.

  • Isn't this a state judge finding for a local company?


No.

Contact information for i4i:

Quote
Corporate Offices:
116 Spadina Avenue, Fifth Floor
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5V 2K6

Tel: 416.504.0141
Fax: 416.504.1785


In Canada software patents are not valid so this Canadian company did the patenting in the U.S. and used East Texas because that region is notorious for awarding large damages in patent cases.


  • The Judge made his decision based on facts not germain to the case. He will be easily overturned on that alone.
  • This whole suit is insane. There might more than one reason that i4i took this suit to Texas.
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  • The Judge made his decision based on facts not germain to the case. He will be easily overturned on that alone.
  • This whole suit is insane. There might more than one reason that i4i took this suit to Texas.

Two judges.  It has been tried and appealed.  Microsoft has lost it before two judges.  Once might have been incompetence but it is hard to believe twice in a row.

From some discussion I've seen (but not with links to a source) it appears that i4i was after $25 million in damages, the higher award was jury determined.  Which makes it less "troll like" in appearance.
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Offline Bonk

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 :soap:

Do people see how absurd this is?


<snip> self-edited political rant removed. ;)

Offline toasty0

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:soap:

Do people see how absurd this is?


<snip> self-edited political rant removed. ;)

I do, but like you, I can't address those issues without possibly striking a match.
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Offline marstone

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:soap:

Do people see how absurd this is?


<snip> self-edited political rant removed. ;)

I do, but like you, I can't address those issues without possibly striking a match.

Yes, as much as I like to see the spurs taken to MS, I don't understand this.

*quote from article*
Custom XML allows people to create forms or templates such that words in certain fields are tagged and then can be managed in a database, said Loudon Owen, a spokesman for i4i. Large companies and government agencies, for example, might create such templates.

I4i's patent covers technology that lets end users manipulate document architecture and content.
*end quote*

Hmmm, how do you get a patent on word replacement in a document.  This tech has been used in word processing for mass mailing for decades now.
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Microsoft have their own XML patent just granted:

Link to patent:

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United States Patent     
7,571,169
Jones ,   et al.    
August 4, 2009
Word-processing document stored in a single XML file that may be manipulated by applications that understand XML

Abstract

A word processor including a native XML file format is provided. The well formed XML file fully represents the word-processor document, and fully supports 100% of word-processor's rich formatting. There are no feature losses when saving the word-processor documents as XML. A published XSD file defines all the rules behind the word-processor's XML file format. Hints may be provided within the XML associated files providing applications that understand XML a shortcut to understanding some of the features provided by the word-processor. The word-processing document is stored in a single XML file. Additionally, manipulation of word-processing documents may be done on computing devices that do not include the word-processor itself.
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Microsoft has filed an emergency motion to stay the judgment.  It is sealed so the details are lacking.

Link to full article

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415 - Filed & Entered: 08/14/2009
Sealed Motion
Docket Text: SEALED MOTION Microsoft's Emergency Motion To Stay Execution of Judgment and Waive Bond Requirement by Microsoft Corporation. (Attachments: # (1) Exhibit A - Damon Declaration, # (2) Text of Proposed Order)(Kudlac, Kevin)
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Offline Bonk

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Hmmm, would it be possible to "DDoS" the patent office? Not literally, but with so many patent applications they would be crippled?

I'll start with a patent on the letter A. ;)  Oh and the number 87587646557654213650979835272115000005535 is mine too!

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Hmmm, would it be possible to "DDoS" the patent office? Not literally, but with so many patent applications they would be crippled?

Too late, the US Patent Office was DDoS'd long ago.  Their response was to "ration" the amount of time an examiner spent on each application.  Over time this has resulted in patents being allowed on things that are incredibly vague or "obvious" (patenting the way a child operates a swing for example). 

Also judicial rulings have allowed patents on non physical things such as software and "business methods" which were originally not covered.

Originally you patented a precise design and had to have a working model.  Now they are patenting concepts with no method of actually doing what is defined (and defined in the vaguest of terms). 
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Offline toasty0

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Hmmm, would it be possible to "DDoS" the patent office? Not literally, but with so many patent applications they would be crippled?

Too late, the US Patent Office was DDoS'd long ago.  Their response was to "ration" the amount of time an examiner spent on each application.  Over time this has resulted in patents being allowed on things that are incredibly vague or "obvious" (patenting the way a child operates a swing for example). 

Also judicial rulings have allowed patents on non physical things such as software and "business methods" which were originally not covered.

Originally you patented a precise design and had to have a working model.  Now they are patenting concepts with no method of actually doing what is defined (and defined in the vaguest of terms).

Which sounds more like a copyright, except a copyright can be taken out only on the particular execution of a concept and not the concept itself.
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Which sounds more like a copyright, except a copyright can be taken out only on the particular execution of a concept and not the concept itself.

Which brings up another issue.  Software is already protected by copyright should it have another layer of protection in patents?
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In a 65-page summary opinion dated Aug. 11, U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Davis said that evidence presented during the May 2009 jury trial showed Microsoft had met with i4i executives as far back as 2001, knew of the firm's patent for XML editing, and yet did nothing to guarantee that its implementation of "custom" XML would not infringe the i4i patent.


So Microsoft was fully aware of the patent and did nothing to avoid violating it.  I guess that explains the "willful" part of the judgment.

Quote
Davis highlighted an internal Microsoft e-mail that was presented by i4i during the trial as "particularly damaging." The e-mail was sent by Martin Sawicki, a member of the XML for Word development team, as a reply to another Microsoft employee who forwarded a message from i4i that described both its software and patent.

"We saw [i4i's products] some time ago, and met its creators," said Sawicki in the Jan. 23, 2003, e-mail. "Word 11 will make it obsolete. It looks great for XP though." Word 11 was the in-development code name for what was eventually dubbed Word 2003.

"The trial evidence revealed that Microsoft's intention to move competitors' XML products to obsolescence was quite bold," Davis said in his opinion. During the trial, i4i's expert testified that 80% of the market for the company's products was made moot when Microsoft added custom XML capabilities to Word 2003.

"My main concern with i4i is that if we do the work properly, there won't be a need for their product," stated another internal Microsoft e-mail submitted into evidence.


Yet again they purposefully set out to make another companies product "obsolete" by integrating its functions into Microsoft products.  So much for them having reformed.

Quote
Microsoft had asked Davis to issue a stay of the injunction "pending reexamination of the [i4i] patent," but Davis denied the request.


Looks like the injunction is holding.
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Offline marstone

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The E-mail I don't see as that damaging (again, I hate MicroSoft).  All it stated is that they know of I4i's patent, and that this new product will make it obsolete.  That is evolution in software.  Same as the IC engine took the horse away from the cart.

It doesn't say they are using the same process, as how would that make the old one obsolete?  Now if I4i has a code process with their patent and you can see that MS used the same code, then maybe.

I still don't see how you can patent word replacement, mail merge has done it for year.  Replacing a word in a doc from a database.  In my thought it would be like patenting a bubble sort.  But I haven't read the patent so this is just knee jerk responses.
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Offline Bonk

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$290 million in fines? That is fundraising.

How much money has gone into i4i since it was founded? I'm betting considerably less than $290 million. There is no way that business is worth even close to $290 million.

I would not be surprised to discover that i4i is a contrived business founded for this very purpose.

It is time for governments to go open source. Then they won't have to pull this underhanded sh*t to recover licensing costs.

Oh. I just read i4i's website. Thier entire "business" is based on XML. Now let's assume it is a real business and not a patent trolling ms licensing cost recovery front. Well that is an idiotic business model. Yes the pointy haired bosses of the world get wet when they hear XML, because it is XML and your product just has to have it whether it serves any useful purpose or not. It just sounds too cool to pass up right? CSVs and schemas are just not as sexy.

Seriously take a look at their website. If the business is not a complete fake then it has survived solely on the pointy haired boss marketing buzzword effect.

Let me make it clear that I'm not just defending MS here, it could be anyone. They just picked the richest target, that is all. As I mentioned, I find it rather strange that they have not similarly named openoffice.org, corel, and countless other companies that produce software capable of producing custom XML.

Well, if this is all it takes to get $290 million, tell me again why I am working my ass off?

You know, these kinds of suits could be a larger economic tool. Especially at this magnitude. They could reduce the need for governments to "create" money. This approach could add decades to the useful life of the "current economic model". ;)
« Last Edit: August 18, 2009, 05:05:42 am by Bonk »

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$290 million in fines? That is fundraising.

How much money has gone into i4i since it was founded? I'm betting considerably less than $290 million. There is no way that business is worth even close to $290 million.

The company was apparently after $25 million. The $290 million is the result of punitive damages being awarded by a jury for willful infringement (see my prior post about the MS e-mail), plus interest (during the appeals process so far) and an additional $40 million penalty by the judge for their lawyers misbehaving during the appeal.

I would not be surprised to discover that i4i is a contrived business founded for this very purpose.

Founded in 1993.  Patent applied for in 1994.  Patent granted in 1998.  I think that is too old to be established just for that purpose.

Was a "Microsoft Partner" and used their products to help the U.S. government doing their "data mining" post 9/11. 

I find it rather strange that they have not similarly named openoffice.org, corel, and countless other companies

Not really strange.  Apparently they have checked out OpenOffice.org for example and found it doesn't violate their patent.  The patent does not cover all XML just using it in a particular way.

Based on the information in my prior post it appears that Microsoft was fully aware of the patent and i4i products and purposefully set out to copy the function of those products knowing of the patent.  Admittedly I haven't yet seen the text of that ruling or of the e-mail we just have what people have written about it (with supporting excerpts from the ruling) but it appears to be pretty definitive that they did as accused.  Whether the patent is actually valid is another thing (and I am against software patents but they are legal in the U.S.).
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Founded in 1993.  Patent applied for in 1994.  Patent granted in 1998.  I think that is too old to be established just for that purpose.

I don't.

Not really strange.  Apparently they have checked out OpenOffice.org for example and found it doesn't violate their patent.  The patent does not cover all XML just using it in a particular way.

I still think it is very strange, as I can use any text editor to produce any kind of XML in any way.

You can't patent text files... what's the RFC/standard? Gotta run to work, argue more later.  :)

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Founded in 1993.  Patent applied for in 1994.  Patent granted in 1998.  I think that is too old to be established just for that purpose.

I don't.

I find it unlikely that someone would create a company to patent troll and then wait 10 years or so to actually start laying charges.  10 years during which they produced and marketed products, part of that time as a Microsoft Partner.

Not really strange.  Apparently they have checked out OpenOffice.org for example and found it doesn't violate their patent.  The patent does not cover all XML just using it in a particular way.

I still think it is very strange, as I can use any text editor to produce any kind of XML in any way.

You can't patent text files... what's the RFC/standard? Gotta run to work, argue more later.  :)

Look higher up where I posted the abstract of Microsoft's own just granted XML patent.

In any case what i4i seems to have patented is not the text file but a particular way of organizing a word processing document and manipulating the data within it using that organization for purposes other than word processing.
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Offline toasty0

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Which sounds more like a copyright, except a copyright can be taken out only on the particular execution of a concept and not the concept itself.

Which brings up another issue.  Software is already protected by copyright should it have another layer of protection in patents?

On the surface of things I believe not, or not easily. Because of the complexity of software, and with the understanding that software can be engineered, I believe the door should be left open for patents. It's the abuse of the patent process that most concerns me. One only needs to study the history of radio and those related patent battles to see how misused the process can become...and can encourage predatory practices of smaller cash starpped entities to use the system to attack deep pocket, more successful competitors.
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and can encourage predatory practices of smaller cash starpped entities to use the system to attack deep pocket, more successful competitors.

It can also lead to bigger companies violating the patents knowing that the smaller company can't survive the patent fight.  Especially if the larger company drags out "negotiations" for years while the smaller companies assets dwindle to the point they can't fight a lawsuit.
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Offline toasty0

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Yup. It does cut both way.
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Offline Bonk

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I find it unlikely that someone would create a company to patent troll and then wait 10 years or so to actually start laying charges.  10 years during which they produced and marketed products, part of that time as a Microsoft Partner.


Perfect planning and execution. I remember first hearing of XML and commenting on its sillyness back around 1993. XML is data stored as plain text. Safe bet that MS will have software that uses it in 10 years... (from '93). And what about that name: i4i. :skeptic:

In any case what i4i seems to have patented is not the text file but a particular way of organizing a word processing document and manipulating the data within it using that organization for purposes other than word processing.


Right, what you have described is XML, and I can use any number of software products to produce it. Want to see me do it with a hex editor? How about Gnumeric? It might be easier to try and name something I cannot do it with. Name a non-game application that I cannot use to create custom XML.

Hmm let me try it myself....Oh, Celestia maybe? (a bit gamish though and might have an embedded text editor). How about the windows calculator? I wonder if I can get it to produce custom XML? That might be tricky. There's one application we may not have to buy from i4i in future. Not a fair comparison though, the example should also be a separate software product not an OS accessory. Let's see I'll go through my start menu and see what belongs to i4i now... (skipping games)

010 Editor (hex editor) - Now belongs to i4i.
3D exploration (model editor - handles XML formats) - Now belongs to i4i.
7-zip - Safe?
ActivePerl - Definitely Now belongs to i4i.
NIST AMDIS - Safe?
Aspell - Safe?
A-Squared Free - Safe?
ATI Catalyst Media Center - Safe?
BitTorrent - Safe?
Blender - Now belongs to i4i.

Bah I can't be bothered to do the rest, but just within the As and Bs i4i now owns 40%. That is huge. Let's see, i4i can probably get some money out of Sweetscape and ActiveState from that list. They might leave Blender alone, but taking control of it might be worthwhile.

edit: after re-reading my post, I have realised that this may be "the case that killed the patent system". The fact that they have even announced anything about openoffice is an acknowledgement that they realise their integrity is in question. They will be obliged to sue other offenders as well now. Failing to do so is implicit admission of their troll. Actually it is more an exploitation of the lack of technical knowledge of legal professionals rather than an actual patent troll.

200 million... wow. Let me research this company, I wonder what its actual value is. (Fat chance I'll find that)

edit2: Oh I almost forgot Xywrite... they've got these guys beat buy a mile - back to 1982. Check the markup features and the XPL macro language.

edit3: Oh wait, I just figured it out. These guys are from Toronto! That explains it all.  ;) :flame:
« Last Edit: August 18, 2009, 07:44:35 pm by Bonk »

Online Nemesis

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Perfect planning and execution. I remember first hearing of XML and commenting on its sillyness back around 1993. XML is data stored as plain text. Safe bet that MS will have software that uses it in 10 years... (from '93). And what about that name: i4i. :skeptic:

The name i4i is an abbreviation of a longer name: Infrastructures for Information.

It wasn't until Microsoft was aware of their partner's software and the demand for it from the U.S. government post 9/11 that they implemented it's features into Word. (Apparently used by the Patent office and FDA among others.)

From what I have seen online work on XML was begun in 1995 and the patent predates it.

Right, what you have described is XML, and I can use any number of software products to produce it. Want to see me do it with a hex editor? How about Gnumeric? It might be easier to try and name something I cannot do it with. Name a non-game application that I cannot use to create custom XML.

Note I said a "particular way of organizing".  From what I understand of XML multiple different ways of storing the data are possible (I admit to having only a minimal understanding of XML).  If Microsoft's method is a direct copy of the i4i method then either it is an obvious method (and therefore an invalid patent) or Microsoft must have directly copied it.  The fact that other programs use different non infringing methods tends to show that the method is very specific and not obvious.  The patent also seems to be specific to word processors and therefore the majority of your examples are immediately and obviously non infringing (like MS-Excel is non infringing while using XML).

Patents really were intended for specific designs and allow for alternative ways of doing the same thing.  In fact the vagueness of so many software patents is what invalidates them by making them non specific.  This patent is apparently on a specific method of organizing that Microsoft has now been ruled by 2 judges to have copied.

Note how it is only MS word that is in violation not OpenOffice (or Star Office) which also use XML.  Note how Microsoft can by the settlement continue to sell Word by disabling certain features which by their own admission most customers don't use.  It isn't the use of XML but the use of specific patented organization for data that is the violation.
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Link to full article

Quote
"If left undisturbed, the district court's injunction will inflict irreparable harm on Microsoft by potentially keeping the centerpiece of its product line out of the market for months. The injunction would block the distribution not only of Word but also of the entire Office suite, which contains Word and other popular programs," lawyers for the Redmond company write in the filing


Sounds like their old claim (demonstrated in court to be wrong) that they couldn't remove IE from Win98 while leaving the OS operational. 

To me it is a further demonstration of why Microsoft's integrating of widely disparate programs into a single unified whole is a mistake.  You should be able to use your database or spreadsheet for example whether or not your word processor is present.

Why the judge rejected the stay:

Quote
Also as mentioned above, it is likely that Microsoft will incur a loss as a result of an injunction. However, given Microsoft's size and financial condition, the loss can not be considered irreparable. This factor also weighs against a stay.

On the other hand, i4i will continue to be irreparably injured absent a stay. As discussed, the evidence shows that Microsoft's presence in the custom XML market has altered the very nature of the marketplace for smaller competitors such as i4i. The fact of Microsoft's infringement causes i4i to suffer irreparable harm for every new XML customer that purchases an infringing Microsoft product. To stay any injunction would only prolong that harm without providing any remedy. Finally, as discussed above, the injunction is narrowly tailored to cause minimal disruption to the public. This factor does not support a stay.
Do unto others as Frey has done unto you.
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I believe truth and principle do matter. If you have to sacrifice them to get the results you want, then the results aren't worth it.
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Offline marstone

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Perfect planning and execution. I remember first hearing of XML and commenting on its sillyness back around 1993. XML is data stored as plain text. Safe bet that MS will have software that uses it in 10 years... (from '93). And what about that name: i4i. :skeptic:

The name i4i is an abbreviation of a longer name: Infrastructures for Information.

It wasn't until Microsoft was aware of their partner's software and the demand for it from the U.S. government post 9/11 that they implemented it's features into Word. (Apparently used by the Patent office and FDA among others.)

From what I have seen online work on XML was begun in 1995 and the patent predates it.

Right, what you have described is XML, and I can use any number of software products to produce it. Want to see me do it with a hex editor? How about Gnumeric? It might be easier to try and name something I cannot do it with. Name a non-game application that I cannot use to create custom XML.

Note I said a "particular way of organizing".  From what I understand of XML multiple different ways of storing the data are possible (I admit to having only a minimal understanding of XML).  If Microsoft's method is a direct copy of the i4i method then either it is an obvious method (and therefore an invalid patent) or Microsoft must have directly copied it.  The fact that other programs use different non infringing methods tends to show that the method is very specific and not obvious.  The patent also seems to be specific to word processors and therefore the majority of your examples are immediately and obviously non infringing (like MS-Excel is non infringing while using XML).

Patents really were intended for specific designs and allow for alternative ways of doing the same thing.  In fact the vagueness of so many software patents is what invalidates them by making them non specific.  This patent is apparently on a specific method of organizing that Microsoft has now been ruled by 2 judges to have copied.

Note how it is only MS word that is in violation not OpenOffice (or Star Office) which also use XML.  Note how Microsoft can by the settlement continue to sell Word by disabling certain features which by their own admission most customers don't use.  It isn't the use of XML but the use of specific patented organization for data that is the violation.

It doesn't mean that OpenOffice doesn't infringe on the copywrite.  It just means that haven't tried to enforce it against them yet.  They might be testing the legal waters against MS because they would get a settlement from a lawsuit against MS.  The smaller ones are not really worth the fight (unless you wanted to get precedence on your side before going after MS)  Also since they were partners with MS for awhile it helps build the appearance that the process could have been stolen/copied easier.

Question I have is has it made it to the federal courts yet or is it still working on the state level.  As MS is multi-state federal court would have more say on how it runs.  A state level court could only really get them to stop selling in their own state.
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Online Nemesis

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It doesn't mean that OpenOffice doesn't infringe on the copywrite. 


I'm assuming that you mean patent not copyright.

Link to source:
Quote
i4i said it has looked at OpenOffice and found it doesn’t infringe on its patents.


Question I have is has it made it to the federal courts yet or is it still working on the state level.  As MS is multi-state federal court would have more say on how it runs.  A state level court could only really get them to stop selling in their own state.


I believe that it is a U.S. district court that happens to be in Texas not a Texas State court.  I don't believe that a State Court would have jurisdiction over patents.
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Seti Team    Free Software
I believe truth and principle do matter. If you have to sacrifice them to get the results you want, then the results aren't worth it.
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Offline Bonk

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Well I still don't like it. I think the whole thing is over the top. I think I'll go have a Coors Light. ;)

Offline toasty0

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It doesn't mean that OpenOffice doesn't infringe on the copywrite. 


I'm assuming that you mean patent not copyright.

Link to source:
Quote
i4i said it has looked at OpenOffice and found it doesn’t infringe on its patents.


Question I have is has it made it to the federal courts yet or is it still working on the state level.  As MS is multi-state federal court would have more say on how it runs.  A state level court could only really get them to stop selling in their own state.


I believe that it is a U.S. district court that happens to be in Texas not a Texas State court.  I don't believe that a State Court would have jurisdiction over patents.


You're correct. I just wasn't sure at the time I wrote my that post.

Never the less, it is a decision based upon flawed reasoning.
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Microsoft admits to having a monopoly.
« Reply #39 on: August 19, 2009, 09:52:19 pm »
Link to full article:

As part of their attempt to get the injunction on shipping MS-Word lifted Microsoft lawyers made the following claim.

Quote
Customers, meanwhile, could be "stranded without an alternative set of software" during the re-development work that Microsoft said would cause a "major public disruption". This pain would prove a "complete waste of time" should Microsoft ultimately win on appeal.


An admission of having a monopoly in the Office Suite market.  Could come back to bite them in the future.
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Offline toasty0

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I think there is a chance you might be reading more into that section you quoted than is actually there...

Eh, maybe I should not even try.  *looks around the room and mumbles to self*...where did I leave that quote by Winston?
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Offline marstone

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I think there is a chance you might be reading more into that section you quoted than is actually there...

Eh, maybe I should not even try.  *looks around the room and mumbles to self*...where did I leave that quote by Winston?

 :smackhead:  I'll agree with ya on that.
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I think there is a chance you might be reading more into that section you quoted than is actually there...

I only see two interpretations:

1/ Microsoft Word customers have no alternative software they can use and hence Microsoft has a monopoly on word processing software (which is only illegal if they abuse that monopoly or took illegal actions to achieve it)

2/ Microsoft lawyers lied to a U.S. Federal Court judge about the customers having no alternative.

As I understand U.S. patent law, damage to customers is not a reason to avoid an injunction.  Only if irreparable harm to the company that the injunction is against (which is balanced against irreparable harm to the other party) is considered in blocking the injunction.  If I understand that right then Microsoft's claim of harm to the customers is not a valid obstacle to the injunction.

Do unto others as Frey has done unto you.
Seti Team    Free Software
I believe truth and principle do matter. If you have to sacrifice them to get the results you want, then the results aren't worth it.
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Offline toasty0

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So this has gone from a patent suit to anti-monopoly trial?

A public good argument is always valid in any corporate suit.


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Offline Rod ONeal

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Microsoft Says it Will Temporarily Stop Selling Office if Word Ban Isn't Lifted

http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=16037

<snip>
Some are puzzled, though, as to why Microsoft would stop selling Office, rather than simply changes it file format and distinguishing between the current and XML-less editions.  States Barry Negrin, a partner with the New York firm Pryor Cashman LLP who has practiced patent and trademark law for 17 years, "All Microsoft has to do is disable the custom XML feature, which should be pretty easy to do, then give that a different SKU number from what’s been sold so it’s easy to distinguish the two versions."

In the unlikely event that Microsoft does indeed carry through on its claim to stop selling Office, it could prove a headache for consumers and businesses, who rely on the software's functionality.  However, light-weight alternatives such as Open Office 3 (which nears Office 2007 in functionality) and Google Docs could get a brief boost if Microsoft Office disappeared for several months -- a prospect that has some excited.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Could you imagine if M$ continues to play chicken with this until they run head on into the compliance deadline and actually have to pull Office off of the shelves?
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Could you imagine if M$ continues to play chicken with this until they run head on into the compliance deadline and actually have to pull Office off of the shelves?

I would imagine that in spite of their claims that they have already (they have had plenty of time during the lawsuit) prepared a version with the relevant menu options "greyed out" and unusable. 

This is likely just another legal ploy.
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I believe truth and principle do matter. If you have to sacrifice them to get the results you want, then the results aren't worth it.
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So this has gone from a patent suit to anti-monopoly trial?

It was just my observation on the Microsoft lawyers comments combined with past statements by both Microsoft and its supporters.  I had thought it pretty clear.

A public good argument is always valid in any corporate suit.

I don't think that applies to patent suits.  Especially not when dealing with a convicted abusive monopolist. 

What will Microsoft do when (and if) they exhaust all their appeals and still lose?  Will they then claim they should be able to continue violating the patent until they can get around to fixing the violation?  All in the "public good" of course.

Consider their "punishment" from the U.S. courts where they were supposed to document parts of Windows.  Their time frame passed and was extended, it passed again and was extended , then it passed again and was extended yet again (and they are STILL not compliant).  How long would they stretch out a "mere" patent violation if they can't (or won't) obey documentation court orders.  Why should we believe they would rewrite their software in a timely manner if they can avoid it?

Note in the E.U, when ordered to provide documentation and failing they were fined.  When they failed again the fines were escalated and they complied. 
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I believe truth and principle do matter. If you have to sacrifice them to get the results you want, then the results aren't worth it.
 FoaS_XC : "Take great pains to distinguish a criticism vs. an attack. A person reading a post should never be able to confuse the two."

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Link to full article

Quote
TORONTO — Microsoft's appeal of a patent infringement case it lost to Toronto-based i4i LP will be heard Sept. 23 in a U.S. court.

The United States Court of Appeals ordered an expedited hearing Thursday of the appeal of the i4i v. Microsoft case from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
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Offline toasty0

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So this has gone from a patent suit to anti-monopoly trial?


It was just my observation on the Microsoft lawyers comments combined with past statements by both Microsoft and its supporters.  I had thought it pretty clear.

A public good argument is always valid in any corporate suit.


I don't think that applies to patent suits.  Especially not when dealing with a convicted abusive monopolist. 


http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/empire/resources/ is a good starting point.

Quote
What will Microsoft do when (and if) they exhaust all their appeals and still lose?  Will they then claim they should be able to continue violating the patent until they can get around to fixing the violation?  All in the "public good" of course.


Like the patent is actually valid. It should be repealed and I think that will be the outcome of all this tomfoolery.

Quote
Consider their "punishment" from the U.S. courts where they were supposed to document parts of Windows.  Their time frame passed and was extended, it passed again and was extended , then it passed again and was extended yet again (and they are STILL not compliant).  How long would they stretch out a "mere" patent violation if they can't (or won't) obey documentation court orders.  Why should we believe they would rewrite their software in a timely manner if they can avoid it?

Note in the E.U, when ordered to provide documentation and failing they were fined.  When they failed again the fines were escalated and they complied.


All that has nothing to do with the legal merits of this case. 
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Offline toasty0

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Link to full article

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TORONTO — Microsoft's appeal of a patent infringement case it lost to Toronto-based i4i LP will be heard Sept. 23 in a U.S. court.

The United States Court of Appeals ordered an expedited hearing Thursday of the appeal of the i4i v. Microsoft case from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.



Very interesting.

This is a vital case for inventors and entrepreneurial companies who, like i4i, are damaged by the wilful infringement of their patents by competitors, particularly competitors as large and powerful as Microsoft."


Large and powerful is just legal speak for "they have the deepest pockets".

The injunction prevents Microsoft from selling Word products that have the capability of opening an XML file containing custom XML.

When will eye-4eye bring suits against any word processing program that uses the open standard...open office, Word Star, Word Perfect...

Never the less, this is a stupid patent award and should be repealed.
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http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/empire/resources/ is a good starting point.


A link to something that actually supports your claim would be interesting. 

Quote
What will Microsoft do when (and if) they exhaust all their appeals and still lose?  Will they then claim they should be able to continue violating the patent until they can get around to fixing the violation?  All in the "public good" of course.


Like the patent is actually valid. It should be repealed and I think that will be the outcome of all this tomfoolery.


I don't know enough to judge but it's up to the courts now. 

Have you read through the patent itself?  Most of those I see offering an opinion haven't and at least some who have seem to think it is valid.

Quote
Consider their "punishment" from the U.S. courts where they were supposed to document parts of Windows.  Their time frame passed and was extended, it passed again and was extended , then it passed again and was extended yet again (and they are STILL not compliant).  How long would they stretch out a "mere" patent violation if they can't (or won't) obey documentation court orders.  Why should we believe they would rewrite their software in a timely manner if they can avoid it?

Note in the E.U, when ordered to provide documentation and failing they were fined.  When they failed again the fines were escalated and they complied.


All that has nothing to do with the legal merits of this case.


The legal merits no.  It does however bear on whether they would comply with a court order to remove the "contested functionality" in a timely manner without some penalty such as having to remove the product from the market until they have done so.

Microsoft has a history of non compliance to court orders which don't include damages to them if they don't comply. 

If Microsoft is forced to remove the product from the market until they either have a non infringing version or they win on the appeals then Microsoft will push the case through quickly.  If they don't have any penalty for non compliance why would they want to push the cases to its completion quickly when being slow could bankrupt i4i and potentially allow then to get the patent for a pittance?
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This is a vital case for inventors and entrepreneurial companies who, like i4i, are damaged by the wilful infringement of their patents by competitors, particularly competitors as large and powerful as Microsoft."

Large and powerful is just legal speak for "they have the deepest pockets".


How about when Microsoft took their patent on FAT against TomTom (a smaller company in financial trouble)?  I'd say that there is doubt in the validity of a patent on FAT.  What do you call that? 

How about Steve Ballmer of Microsoft and his last few years of patent "sabre rattling" at Linux distributions where he refuses to specify what patents for fear they will be challenged and invalidated? 

The injunction prevents Microsoft from selling Word products that have the capability of opening an XML file containing custom XML.


Inaccurate.  It prevents them from selling Word products with specific functionality.  ODF (which is XML) for example does not violate the patent and Word can use it.  They can sell it with their own XML format as well so long as they disable the patented functions.

When will eye-4eye bring suits against any word processing program that uses the open standard...open office, Word Star, Word Perfect...


You could use the proper long form of its name: Infrastructures for Information.  I doubt that you like seeing M$ or Microsux so why not use the proper name for i4i?

OpenOffice has already been stated by i4i to not violate the patent and by extension one would assume Star Office is also not in violation.  Does Word Star still exist?  WordPerfect and the others need to check things out themselves.

Never the less, this is a stupid patent award and should be repealed.


I think that software should not be covered by patents at all as it already has copyright protection (and draconian EULAs in many cases).  Giving patent protection is "double dipping".

Whether THIS patent will stand up we will have to wait and see.
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Offline toasty0

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http://www.pbs.org/kenburns/empire/resources/ is a good starting point.


A link to something that actually supports your claim would be interesting.


I take it you read through all that information in a day, and watched the documentary and came to the conclusion that the 20+ year patent fights over radio technology has no bearing, relation, or interesting similarities here. *shrug* Can't argue with that if that's what you did.

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This is a vital case for inventors and entrepreneurial companies who, like i4i, are damaged by the wilful infringement of their patents by competitors, particularly competitors as large and powerful as Microsoft."

Large and powerful is just legal speak for "they have the deepest pockets".


How about when Microsoft took their patent on FAT against TomTom (a smaller company in financial trouble)?  I'd say that there is doubt in the validity of a patent on FAT.  What do you call that? 

How about Steve Ballmer of Microsoft and his last few years of patent "sabre rattling" at Linux distributions where he refuses to specify what patents for fear they will be challenged and invalidated? 

The injunction prevents Microsoft from selling Word products that have the capability of opening an XML file containing custom XML.


Inaccurate.  It prevents them from selling Word products with specific functionality.  ODF (which is XML) for example does not violate the patent and Word can use it.  They can sell it with their own XML format as well so long as they disable the patented functions.


Hey, I quoted your source at http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5hmeEJoOnn5akEsKGI9qA1HE-1SPQ  Last paragraph. Do you wonder if they are incorrect about this fact they may have other facts wrong as well?

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I take it you read through all that information in a day, and watched the documentary and came to the conclusion that the 20+ year patent fights over radio technology has no bearing, relation, or interesting similarities here. *shrug* Can't argue with that if that's what you did.

I went to the page and there are  a number of links but NOTHING to single out what you are referring to.  Being on dial up I'm not about to download an entire movie if one of those links leads to such a download and you did not refer to a movie in your posting.

When a link is provided to information there is USUALLY information directly on that page not on one of the multiple links off of it.
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This is a vital case for inventors and entrepreneurial companies who, like i4i, are damaged by the wilful infringement of their patents by competitors, particularly competitors as large and powerful as Microsoft."

Large and powerful is just legal speak for "they have the deepest pockets".


How about when Microsoft took their patent on FAT against TomTom (a smaller company in financial trouble)?  I'd say that there is doubt in the validity of a patent on FAT.  What do you call that? 

How about Steve Ballmer of Microsoft and his last few years of patent "sabre rattling" at Linux distributions where he refuses to specify what patents for fear they will be challenged and invalidated? 

The injunction prevents Microsoft from selling Word products that have the capability of opening an XML file containing custom XML.


Inaccurate.  It prevents them from selling Word products with specific functionality.  ODF (which is XML) for example does not violate the patent and Word can use it.  They can sell it with their own XML format as well so long as they disable the patented functions.


Hey, I quoted your source at http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5hmeEJoOnn5akEsKGI9qA1HE-1SPQ  Last paragraph. Do you wonder if they are incorrect about this fact they may have other facts wrong as well?


Last paragraph:
Quote
The injunction prevents Microsoft from selling Word products that have the capability of opening an XML file containing custom XML.


Custom XML is apparently how Microsoft refers to those features.  (That is not in that particular article but is explained in other articles).   So Microsoft cannot ship Word products with the features that they have been calling Custom XML.  They can ship products with XML but not that particular set of features.
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Sorry, Nem, I see it as a more complex issue than a one paragraph press release or 15 second sound bite thus my linkage. I mean no disrepeact to you with that explanation, it is just that, an explanation for my choice to use that resource.

 :drink:
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The Microsoft Blog
http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/microsoft/archives/177761.asp

Dell, HP support Microsoft in Word injunction case

Dell and Hewlett-Packard have sided with Microsoft in its appeal of a federal ruling that could prohibit the software giant from selling Word.

The computer manufacturing companies each filed on Monday an amicus curiae, or "friend of the court," brief stating their support for Microsoft's motion to stay an injunction against Word in its current form. On Aug. 11, a Texas federal court found Microsoft willingly infringed upon a patent on processing custom XML held by a small Canadian company, i4i Inc., and also ordered Microsoft pay $240 million in damages.

"The District Court's injunction of Microsoft Word will have an impact far beyond Microsoft," the Dell filing states. "Microsoft Word is ubiquitous among word processing software and is included on (redacted) computers sold by Dell. ...


Download Dell's amicus curiae brief (PDF)."If Microsoft is required to ship a revised version of Word in Dell's computers, a change would need to be made to Dell's (software) images. Making such a change would require extensive time- and resource-consuming re-testing."

Several sections of the companies' statements are identical.

The case is now in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., after Microsoft appealed the ruling from Judge Leonard Davis' courtroom at U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas in Tyler.

Last week, Microsoft filed its motion to stay Davis' injunction, and the Court of Appeals granted Microsoft an expedited hearing set for Sept. 23.

PDF documents:

http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/library/20090828dellmotion.pdf
http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/library/20090828dellbrief.pdf
http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/library/20090828hpmotion.pdf
http://blog.seattlepi.com/microsoft/library/20090828hpbrief.pdf


Also, pretty strong words by Microsoft in their appeal, in part they write: "This is not justice," states the brief. "If district courts are free to admit theories of infringement that nullify a patent's claim terms, specification, prosecution history and title; if they allow an inventor to validate his patent by testifying without corroboration that he lied about the date of conception; if they will not intercede to preclude manifestly unreliable - indeed, concededly manipulated - surveys of infringing use ... then patent litigation will be reduced to a free-for-all, unbounded by the requirements of the substantive law or the rules of evidence or trial procedure."

If this is correct I'd say Microsoft has a strong position in the appeal and will most likely prevail.
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From the text of the ruling:

Quote
This injunction also does not apply to any of the above actions wherein any of the Infringing and Future Word Products, upon opening an XML file, applies a custom tranform that removes all custom XML elements.


Personally I would thing that just disallowing editing of features marked with the custom XML should be enough.

Link to article

Quote
Microsoft Corp. (MSFT-Q) can continue to sell its flagship Word software in the United States pending its appeal of a patent infringement case won by a small Toronto-based technology firm, a U.S. judge has ruled.

The world's largest software company had faced an Oct. 10 deadline to redesign the software or stop selling it in the United States after a court last month awarded i4i LP $290-million (U.S.) and slapped an injunction on Microsoft for willfully infringing on the Toronto firm's technology.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington put that injunction on hold on Thursday until after the appeal, which is scheduled to begin Sept. 23.


So long as the appeal stays on the fast track I don't see a problem. 
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In related (Patent lawsuit vs Microsoft) news:

Link to full article

Quote
A federal appeals court on Friday affirmed a lower court ruling that Microsoft infringed on a patent owned by Alcatel-Lucent, but said the jury award of $358 million in damages was excessive.


Quote
Alcatel-Lucent argued that it was owed damages representing 8 percent of the revenue of Microsoft's sales. The jury apparently arrived at its sum based on that percentage of Microsoft's sales or the entire market value of the software products that contain the feature, the opinion said. Microsoft, meanwhile, had suggested a sum of $6.5 million. The appeals court did not suggest a method for calculating the damages, but said the amount chosen by the jury was out of proportion to the potential for infringing use.


I was under the impression that patent awards had to do with the number of units sold not the number of units used.  Especially since unless MS has the software constantly calling home with information on program usage (which of course they wouldn't do right?) no one actually knows how many people use the features covered by this.
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Offline Bonk

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You know, sometimes it is depressing; presented with what might be the most powerful technological tool in history (computers) and all we can do is fight over who gets to make the most money on it and how. It is not just the patent system that is the problem here.

Imagine if there were a patent on the wheel, or fire.

It is probably just a case of wearing pooh coloured news media glasses though. I'm sure there are plenty of stories about co-operative, open scientific efforts in modern computing.... right(?)

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Patents need to return to being a specific design that a "skilled practitioner of the art" could implement from the patent. 

It seems that patents are now the opposite of that.  As vague as possible so that anyone trying to implement the patent only has the vaguest idea of what the patent is about and has to create his own way of accomplishing it.

To use a classic comparison it used to be that you patented a specific design of mouse trap and now you patent the concept of trapping mice with no actual method included.

Microsoft has gone from opposing software patents on the rationale that they stifled innovation to supporting them because it promotes innovation.  I haven't seen their explanation for the change of opinion.
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I find it very difficult to feel compassion to Microsoft and their software patent losses as I'm aware of the software patent threats they have been making towards Linux distributions for years.

For example:

Quote
At the same time, Smith was having Microsoft's lawyers figure out how many of its patents were being infringed by free and open-source software. Gutierrez refuses to identify specific patents or explain how they're being infringed, lest FOSS advocates start filing challenges to them.

But he does break down the total number allegedly violated - 235 - into categories. He says that the Linux kernel - the deepest layer of the free operating system, which interacts most directly with the computer hardware - violates 42 Microsoft patents. The Linux graphical user interfaces - essentially, the way design elements like menus and toolbars are set up - run afoul of another 65, he claims. The Open Office suite of programs, which is analogous to Microsoft Office, infringes 45 more. E-mail programs infringe 15, while other assorted FOSS programs allegedly transgress 68.


Note how they won't say what patents for fear the validity of the patents will be challenged.  It doesn't sound to me like they themselves are sure the patents are valid yet they are making threats about it and have been for several years.
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Microsoft loses the appeal:

Link to source.

Quote
Today, in the United States Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, in Washington D.C., a panel of three judges returned their ruling on the appeal of i4i v. Microsoft and upheld jury's verdict and all the findings of the August 11, 2009 Final Judgment that ruled in favor of i4i and found that Microsoft had willfully infringed i4i's U.S. Patent # 5,787,449, issued in 1998.
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Offline Rod ONeal

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Sucks to be M$. Time for them to pony up and pay the piper. It's not like they can't afford it.
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REDMOND, Wash. – Dec. 22, 2009 – We have just learned that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has denied our appeal in the i4i case.  We are moving quickly to comply with the injunction, which takes effect on January 11, 2010.

This injunction applies only to copies of Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007 sold in the U.S. on or after the injunction date of January 11, 2010.  Copies of these products sold before this date are not affected.

With respect to Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007, we have been preparing for this possibility since the District Court issued its injunction in August 2009 and have put the wheels in motion to remove this little-used feature from these products. Therefore, we expect to have copies of Microsoft Word 2007 and Office 2007, with this feature removed, available for U.S. sale and distribution by the injunction date.  In addition, the beta versions of Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Office 2010, which are available now for downloading, do not contain the technology covered by the injunction.

While we are moving quickly to address the injunction issue, we are also considering our legal options, which could include a request for a rehearing by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals en banc or a request for a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court.

--Kevin Kutz, Director of Public Affairs, Microsoft Corporation

They seem to be low on appeal options now.  Either of their next two options are less than 50-50 of even being heard let alone winning. 
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The next phase begins.

Link to full article

Quote
After a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled last month in favor of plaintiff i4i Inc., Microsoft on Friday petitioned (PDF) the same court to review the ruling en banc. That means Microsoft wants all 12 of the court's judges to review it, and hopefully grant a rehearing.


From what I have read in prior cases I've followed there is less than a 50-50 chance that they will get their hearing.  The 3 appeals court judges who previously ruled against Microsoft aren't going to like being told by Microsoft that they "screwed up" and will argue against the en banc review.

After that is the Supreme court with even lower odds of being heard.

Quote
Microsoft questions the admissibility of an expert testimony, during the trial last summer, that determined the damages amount. The expert witness, Microsoft says, used hypothetical royalty rates for a hypothetical Microsoft-i4i partnership, then multiplied those figures out over several years.


i4i had to present their viewpoint of how much they "would have" made to justify any award.

Quote
During trial, the software giant, of course, objected to the final award of $200 million. But the judge said Microsoft couldn't object because the company's lawyers hadn't filed a relevant pre-verdict document. The legal specifics are extremely technical.


Microsoft had the opportunity to present their own viewpoint on how much they would have been willing to spend to license it - but didn't.  Bad mistake as it can be read as agreement with what i4i proposed as reasonable. 

Could be up to a few months before the appeals court rules on whether they will give the en banc review, could be days, more likely weeks.
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Link to full article

Quote
In this second appeal, the court again re-affirmed the original ruling and spelled out why that decision was made. In court documents spelling out their reasoning, the three appeal court judges said there was evidence that Microsoft knew i4i technology was patented before it turned up in Office programs.

The appeal is not the last that Microsoft can make. The court documents are now being sent to the other appeal court judges who will decide if Microsoft has grounds for a wider review of the case.


Microsoft loses ANOTHER appeal.
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They lose again.

Link to full article

Quote
A U.S. court has rejected Microsoft's request that a full panel of judges hear its appeal in a patent dispute with Toronto's i4i.


All that is left is the Supreme Court and I doubt Microsoft will go there.  The question is would an adverse ruling there be broad enough to threaten Microsofts own software patents?  Do they dare risk the Supremes?  I doubt they will.  Even a "positive" ruling might be bad for Microsoft if it determined that software patents are invalid.
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Link to full article

Quote
TORONTO, July 27  /PRNewswire/ - In the latest development in the i4i v Microsoft patent infringement case, i4i is pleased to announce that today the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has issued a Reexamination Certificate which confirms the patentability of all claims of U.S. Patent 5,787,449 ('449) that had been put into the reexamination proceeding by Microsoft. This issuance of the Reexamination Certificate formally concludes the reexamination proceeding favorably for i4i.


Microsoft tried to get the patent office to rule the patent invalid and failed.  Not much left but the supreme court.
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Offline Kreeargh

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Patents need to return to being a specific design that a "skilled practitioner of the art" could implement from the patent. 

It seems that patents are now the opposite of that.  As vague as possible so that anyone trying to implement the patent only has the vaguest idea of what the patent is about and has to create his own way of accomplishing it.

To use a classic comparison it used to be that you patented a specific design of mouse trap and now you patent the concept of trapping mice with no actual method included.

Microsoft has gone from opposing software patents on the rationale that they stifled innovation to supporting them because it promotes innovation.  I haven't seen their explanation for the change of opinion.

It all comes back to the truth microsoft was created/funded by others software in the firstplace and they are not goverment backed.
Zerox i belive was the orignal creators of "windows" it was for a new paper copy machine.?!
Patent laws allow a new patent to be issued if the orignal has been changed by a small 10%.
The ritch who can afford to fight for instance john deer the gay ole green tractor company, patent a left handed rake weeks after seeing one shown in a farmers show all they did was add a hydrolic motor which changed it that 10% and the orignal creator didnt get CRAP for his 3 year effort designing and building the thing. U loose if you dont have enough $ or are not on goverment side! 
Time for life!

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Xerox created the GUI and let Apple go through their labs and use what they liked (for a big fat fee).  Microsoft "cloned" it.  In those days Xerox did a lot of research and the GUI was on a computer.

The (broken) patent system is a pet peeve of mine.  It needs to get back to fundamentals.   Way too many things get patents which shouldn't be allowed because it is obvious or in common use or just fundamentally doesn't work.  Other patents are so vague you can read it all you want but you could NOT implement what the patent was about or even be sure WHAT it is about. 

Software is covered by copyrights and should not also be covered by patents.
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Microsoft doesn't give up easily do they?

Link to full article

Quote
Microsoft is making one final push to get a $290 million patent case heard by the courts—or, rather, to get the U.S. Supreme Court to hear its appeal in a case that almost got Word pulled from the market. That said, the track record doesn't look good for the high court to pick up the case.


Quote
"Our petition to the Supreme Court focuses on proper standards of proof to determine the validity of a patent, which is a crucial issue for the proper functioning of the patent system," Kevin Kutz, director of public affairs for Microsoft, said in a statement. "The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in our case departs not only from Supreme Court precedent, but from the rulings of all the other appellate courts, and we are asking the Supreme Court to resolve this conflict."


I wouldn't mind them winning on those grounds though it would be a kick in their own butts if they did and the Supreme Court tightened up on what can be patented. 
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Link to full article

Quote
What began as a dispute between a small Canadian software company and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT-Q25.310.060.24%) has morphed into a U.S. Supreme Court case that has the potential to fundamentally overhaul the country’s patent system.


Quote
Microsoft appealed the lower-court ruling, but the appeal was rejected last December. The company applied for a rehearing this year, but that application was also denied. The U.S. patent office also recently rejected a request from Microsoft to once again re-examine the i4i patent.

The Supreme Court’s decision to review the case represents a rare courtroom success for Microsoft, and again prolongs the dispute. However, it appears that this will be the Redmond, Wash.-based company’s final avenue of appeal in the case.

Microsoft’s appeal to the top court essentially asks the court to consider setting a less-stringent standard for invalidating a patent. Currently, companies in Microsoft’s position are required to show “clear and convincing” evidence to invalidate a U.S. patent.


The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.  If MS wins then it will become easier to invalidate patents. 

I would love to see the SC rule all software patents invalid but I don't think that will be an option here.
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Link to full article

Quote
The US Supreme Court unanimously upheld an earlier court's ruling that said Microsoft willfully infringed on i4i's XML patents in Word 2003 and 2007.

Microsoft was ordered to pay i4i almost $300m in damages and told in the ruling that it could no longer ship Word 2003 and 2007 with the offending code. Microsoft issued a patch to sidestep the XML code and continue selling its software.


Quote
“While the outcome is not what we had hoped for, we will continue to advocate for changes to the law that will prevent abuse of the patent system and protect inventors who hold patents representing true innovation.”


Quote
On that note, Microsoft is actively using the existing system that it feels is unfair and ripe for abuse to lodge claims against others. Microsoft has lodged patent infringement claims against Nook makers Barns & Noble, Foxconn and Inventec, and Android phone maker Motorola. It has also rattled its saber at others who have settled without going to court. These include Android phone maker HTC and Linux sat nav specialist TomTom.
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