Topic: A judge on Tuesday ordered Microsoft to stop selling Microsoft Word in the U.S.  (Read 15578 times)

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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(?)

Offline Nemesis

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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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Offline Nemesis

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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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Offline Nemesis

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Microsoft loses the appeal:

Link to source.

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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.
If Romulans aren't cowards, then why do they taste like chicken?

Offline Nemesis

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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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Offline Nemesis

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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.

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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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Offline Nemesis

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Link to full article

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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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Offline Nemesis

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

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Link to full article

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

Offline Nemesis

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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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Offline Nemesis

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Microsoft doesn't give up easily do they?

Link to full article

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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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Offline Nemesis

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Link to full article

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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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Offline Nemesis

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Link to full article

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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.
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.
 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."