Topic: A judge on Tuesday ordered Microsoft to stop selling Microsoft Word in the U.S.  (Read 15418 times)

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Offline Nemesis

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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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Offline Nemesis

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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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Offline Nemesis

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Link to full article

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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 »

Offline Nemesis

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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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Offline Bonk

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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.  :)

Offline Nemesis

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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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Offline Nemesis

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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 »

Offline 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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Offline Nemesis

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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.
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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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Offline 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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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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Offline Nemesis

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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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