Topic: A judge on Tuesday ordered Microsoft to stop selling Microsoft Word in the U.S.  (Read 15562 times)

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Offline Nemesis

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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).

Offline Nemesis

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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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Seti Team    Free Software
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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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Offline Nemesis

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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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Seti Team    Free Software
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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".

Offline Nemesis

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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
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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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Seti Team    Free Software
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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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Offline Nemesis

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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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Offline Nemesis

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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.
Do unto others as Frey has done unto you.
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Offline Nemesis

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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)
Do unto others as Frey has done unto you.
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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!