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i4i Says OpenOffice Does Not Infringe Like MS Word

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the tooth-for-tooth dept.

Patents 146

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "After the permanent injunction barring Microsoft from selling Microsoft Word, many armchair lawyers and pundits wondered how the ruling would affect OpenOffice. The company with the patent, i4i, believes that OpenOffice does not infringe upon it. But lest anyone think that therefore ODF will win out over OOXML, keep in mind that Microsoft has its own broad XML document patent, which issued just two weeks ago, having been filed in December 2004, and they're telling the Supreme Court to apply the Bilski ruling narrowly, so that it doesn't invalidate patents like theirs (and i4i's). After all, unlike most companies and individuals, Microsoft can afford $290 million infringement fines. Then again, given that Microsoft's new patent has only two independent claims (claim #1 and claim #12), and both of those claims 'comprise' something using an 'XML file format for documents associated with an application having a rich set of features,' maybe they wouldn't be that hard to work around if you just make sure any otherwise infringing format is only associated with an application lacking in the feature richness department."

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146 comments

The MS patent does not affect ODF. (4, Informative)

Adaptux (1235736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29111917)

The claim about the MS patent affecting ODF is not true. See here [adaptux.com] for details.

Rob Malda is hung like a toddler (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112021)

Me and a friend dp'd Rob's wife last night and she squealed like a pig

Re:Rob Malda is hung like a toddler (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112399)

hey buddy! I had a fucking awesome time last night. We should do that more often.

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (4, Informative)

quarterbuck (1268694) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112261)

It would not matter what a third party thinks as long as i4i thinks it is not infringing. Unlike trademarks, patents do not expire unless enforced. So i4i is within rights to sue Microsoft and not Sun. And anyway the common practice is to sue the ones with most amount of money and who can be convinced to pay -- It is difficult to ask for a cut of sales when OpenOffice is free (for most part). To add to that there is the fact that large Open Office installations are in Europe where the patent won't apply anyway.
Of course things might change when Oracle completes the purchase of Sun.

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (2, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112453)

Actually, the patents will apply most everywhere in Europe. There are several agreements concerning this. You can find out more at the WIPO site [wipo.int] which lists almost all the "IP" related treaties. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on the case, the law of the land of the violation (Whatever European country) will most likely prevail which could be worse or better depending on the country.

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29115699)

I don't have the time to read through all those treaties, but I doubt it would apply. The EU's current stance on software patents is, that it'S against it. So I don't think US software patents are worth anything here.

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29116119)

First of all you're wrong, and providing a link to WIPO like that doesn't prove anything, and a nations law within EU must subdue to EU law. You know nothing of the EU!

Avoidance of upstream legal risk matters. (3, Insightful)

Adaptux (1235736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112477)

It would not matter what a third party thinks as long as i4i thinks it is not infringing. Unlike trademarks, patents do not expire unless enforced. So i4i is within rights to sue Microsoft and not Sun.

From the perspective of a company which invests into integrating its business processes with the office software that it is using (that's the area of application where the kind of stuff that the patent talks about is relevant), it matters a lot whether you can base your work on ODF without having to fear that essential features (for your purposes) might get removed from future versions due to patent trouble.

Re:Avoidance of upstream legal risk matters. (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#29116063)


Presumably there's a counter issue about future development though. The patent can be an advantage to MS in a way. If MS do settle with i4i then they will henceforth be able to implement a feature that OpenOffice (or anyone else) wont be able to. So, yes - it pains MS that they would have to pay to do something, but if they can pay and others can't then the patent has the usual effect of software patents, of closing the market with further barriers to entry and favouring established and large players.

Re:Avoidance of upstream legal risk matters. (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29116369)

able to implement a feature that OpenOffice (or anyone else) wont be able to

Imagine the scene: The patent bites a programmer's fingers off when (s)he tries to implement a patented feature?

Re:Avoidance of upstream legal risk matters. (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#29116601)

Imagine the scene: The patent bites a programmer's fingers off when (s)he tries to implement a patented feature?

I was more imagining a letter from a lawyer in East Texas saying you can't sell your work anymore, actually.

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (0)

Abreu (173023) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112551)

It doesn't matter, even if this somehow apparently benefits OpenOffice.org

A Patent Troll is a Patent Troll and nothing they do benefits us in the long run

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (2, Insightful)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112623)

A Patent Troll is a Patent Troll and nothing they do benefits us in the long run

What does that have to do with the i4i suit?

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112891)

Absolutely nothing but Abreu apparently doesn't like to do any investigation into the small company who produced the product that Microsoft once used and then infringed upon their patent. After all it's patriotic American Microsoft versus the Evil Canuckstainian Horde (i4i) .......

Oh what the hell -- hey morons do a very little research and you'll find out the small company produced the software before Microsoft 1) approached them 2) partnered with i4i and used their work then 3) infringed on the patent

It's an attempt at Embrace Extend Extinguish .... but this time Microsoft got nailed because the i4i has a viable patent and a working product

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29114047)

Why is AC flamebait? A lot of MS employees had spare time today, and some of them had mod points? If anyone bothers to actually read the stories surrounding the case, AC's account is quite accurate.

Embrace, extend, extinguish did in fact fail this time. The little guy in this case does not qualify as our typical patent troll.

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (0, Troll)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 4 years ago | (#29115095)

They filed in East Texas, so whether or not they actually have a product is irrelevant, because if you file in East Texas you are a troll, end of story. The only reason to file in East Texas is because it is a haven for trolls, and is notorious for handing out humongous judgements and for nearly always going for the troll.

So you see there is a REASON why so much hatred is being pointed at i4i, and that is because they gamed the system. If you have your case held in the most crooked IP happy court in the land most folks are naturally gonna hate you, just as we hate it when some corp bribes their way into having laws favoring them passed. Nobody likes seeing the seeing the system perverted and that is EXACTLY what East Texas is-a total perversion of the system. If they would have had their case heard anywhere else and won most folks wouldn't be saying squat, but after seeing East Texas put out one shitty troll verdict after another most folks are gonna naturally hate you if you go there just to have your case heard.

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29116291)

Ah, one of the MS Wikipedia warriors has turned up for work I see. To be fair MS are laying off more and more people, the shills have to make sure they get in their quota of attacks, slurs etc to make sure they get their paychecks from MS. Well done hairyfeet for admirably sticking to your job. This time it's a deflection to blame Texas for allowing dodgy patent cases, I wonder when we'll see the same blame on the same target when MS opt to have a patent case heard in the same area, for the same reasons. This won't be tested too much as MS tend to do their (often bogus) patent bullying and settle without it ever getting to court, unless you want to surprise us all and speak out on that practice. Careful now, your bosses will be watching.

Seems to me that MS are finding the shoe on the other foot, and as usual sending the astroturfer army to work trying to blame everyone else and create the "poor MS" impression. Karma clearly does exist when judgments like this happen.

"Nobody likes seeing the seeing the system perverted" <<< this is what MS do ALL THE TIME. They do this better than making products. They've been getting away with this in EVERY country on the planet for DECADES. They are not used to being told "no". They believe they are above any laws or regulators. Despite all the cases against MS, it's only recently they've started being hit, and only for a fraction of the system gaming they've done. They are unrepentant in their contempt for anyone who stands up to them and tries to get them to compete fairly and obey the law.

The only hatred I see against i4i is coming from the MS astroturf army sent out to cause the hatred and give people the impression that it's widespread, when it's not. Congratulations on your role as a foot soldier in the astroturfer army btw, but you're a tad obvious not to be spotted and outed. Perhaps MS should make a cert for their shills, that way their illegal astroturfers wouldn't give themselves away so easily.

Instead of blaming Texas, why don;t you target the real problem? Software patents. Since MS have already brought up the Bilski ruling, I'm sure your employer wouldn't mind you addressing it too. Unless it's only the lawyers, spokespeople and PR goons that are allowed to speak for MS officially. Let the astroturfers make the noise, let the pretend journalists write their "independent" "poor MS" stories. I guess though that since MS have tried to aim the Bilski ruling by adding the "narrow use" line, they are treating it like an exploding bomb they'd rather use for their own aims to escape the net, while ensuring it won't be used when they are the patent aggressor, bullying another small company with an undisclosed patent claim and settling under an NDA for extortion money.

Fell free to mod this as flamebait (the MS shills who still have mod points won't be able to resist), but check hairyfeet's wikipedia edits for yourself. All modding down does is add more weight to what I'm saying.

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29115739)

Why is AC flamebait?

Probably because it is just as suspicious that so "many" people are defending i4i because "they have a product". Never mind that their patent is ridiculous and they are suing in troll haven.

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29116865)

I honestly don't care either way. I am amused that, finally, Microsoft gets a taste of their own medicine. This whole thing wouldn't be a problem to begin with if Microsoft just could be bothered to follow the fucking law. But no...

But i4i makes a custom XML product... (5, Insightful)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112863)

Well, the term lawyers use isn't "patent troll" but NPE (non-practicing entity).

Under that term, i4i is, in fact, a practicing entity. That is to say, i4i makes an actual product using something like custom XML. No, i4i does not make a word processor, but Microsoft hasn't been barred from selling MS Word, only from incorporating custom XML into it. So the injunction only exists to prevent Microsoft from cannibalizing i4i's product.

Now, I do think their patent is a bit obvious and I don't like software patents in general. But if Microsoft had any sense, they would do an about-face and recant their amicus brief on Bilski, asking the Supreme Court to strike down all software patents, reducing their potential legal liability tremendously. Of course, I know they won't do that. And I don't know what deadlines are involved, so it's possible that it's too late for them to do that. But they might not be in this mess if they had seen the light and lobbied against software patents a long time ago.

And on a side note, I can't believe that there are Microsoft "partners" in this day and age who don't expect to get screwed. I wouldn't have done business with them to begin with. I can't name a single partner they haven't screwed over when given the incentive.

Re:But i4i makes a custom XML product... (2, Insightful)

Zancarius (414244) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112991)

asking the Supreme Court to strike down all software patents, reducing their potential legal liability tremendously.

I agree with your points. Wouldn't it take an act of Congress, rather, to change the law? I can't see the Supreme Court striking down software patents in a broad stroke.

Unfortunately, with Congress consisting mostly crooks, I can't imagine they'd do anything--you know--sensible...

Re:But i4i makes a custom XML product... (3, Interesting)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#29114571)

The application of patents to software isn't enshrined in legislation, but instead was created by a series of court decisions and USPTO decisions.

Hence, the court has just as much power to strike down the beast as they did in creating it. Legislation would remove all ambiguity, where the supreme court is more likely to give as narrow an opinion as they can.

Re:But i4i makes a custom XML product... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29113379)

And on a side note, I can't believe that there are Microsoft "partners" in this day and age who don't expect to get screwed. I wouldn't have done business with them to begin with. I can't name a single partner they haven't screwed over when given the incentive.

On another side note, I was thinking that maybe i4i went into business with Microsoft hoping to be purchased? I don't know anything about the company and never heard of them before this recent injunction against Microsoft. I'm just curious as to why they partnered with Microsoft in the first place because, as you mentioned, a company will eventually get screwed by Microsoft. Maybe they hoped to get bought but at some point in the agreement maybe Microsoft realized the patent (or technology behind it) was very generic and decided to just take it for themselves. Why pay $500 million for a company when you can just take their ideas. If that happened to me I would do all I can to sue the hell out of Microsoft for stealing my idea and (more importantly) not purchasing my company :-)

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29113435)

Shut up spic, why don't you and your kind go drown in the Gulf of Mexico. I am surprised you can actually turn on a computer. No one cares about your opinion. Let the big boys who don't shovel shit for a living talk about what they actually know about and you can talk about tacos, burritos, and working 97 hours in the sun. Comprende hombre?

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (3, Insightful)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#29113715)

You're right, of course.

i4i, however, is not now, and has not ever been a patent troll.

Unlike a patent troll, i4i produces an actual product. An actual product, which, after working with Microsoft, Microsoft unilaterally stole.

i4i is not a patent troll, unless you are trying to spin the story so that people think 'poor Microsoft'.

Hopefully, that won't work here.

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29115759)

It is a patent troll. Their product won't work on any of the last office version, consider it as good as discontinued.

They don't sell anything. They are patent trolling as the last way to save their collective asses.

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29116175)

i4i is not a patent troll, unless you are trying to spin the story so that people think 'poor Microsoft'.

Hopefully, that won't work here.

You must be new to slashdot.

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (2, Informative)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112841)

Unlike trademarks, patents do not expire unless enforced.

Wrong. Patents expire in 20 years, but can not be invalidated unless enforced.

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 4 years ago | (#29113335)

Ah, parentheses. What language cannot be improved by the addition of more parentheses?

Trademarks can be lost if they are not enforced. Read the sentence "Unlike trademarks, patents do not (expire unless enforced)."

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (2, Informative)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#29113291)

large Open Office installations are in Europe where the patent won't apply anyway.

Actually, the U.S. patent will not apply at all in Europe, or Mexico, or China, or Japan, or anywhere else. It's strictly national. It looks like there's a Canadian patent in the family, but I don't see any others (with the caveat that I am not offering legal advice about whether or not this is patented or not in any particular country).

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (2, Informative)

Zordak (123132) | more than 4 years ago | (#29113317)

...and, it looks like we had a little problem with the href tag. The Canadian patent shows up here [espacenet.com] .

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29113785)

Unlike trademarks, patents do not expire unless enforced.

What? Patents will expire at the designated date whether you enforce them or not, they are for limited times.

Trademark rights are considered abandoned if not properly enforced.

Patents always expire exactly on the expiration date, unless found invalid by the USPTO (upon re-examination), or ruled invalid by a court in the interim.

You're probably right, but it might not matter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112525)

While I agree with you in principle, I have to believe that Microsoft lawyers could find some way to make a case out of it if they wanted to. And they just might do that if they were ever losing the format wars. That said, they greatly prefer to FUD about competitors infringing on patents, rather than doing anything, but I have to believe that would change if they ever felt they were losing.

- I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property [eff.org]

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (5, Interesting)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112673)

The submitted article cites the patent owner saying it doesn't apply to ODF. Why would I care what someone who says about himself, "I am not a lawyer, and specifically not a patent lawyer. I have never spent a lot of time on learning about the intricacies of patent law" has to say on the matter at this point? In fact, why would I care even what experienced patent lawyers have to say now? Hasn't it been definitively settled by i4i's statement?

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (3, Interesting)

Adaptux (1235736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112875)

The submitted article cites the patent owner saying it doesn't apply to ODF. Why would I care what someone who says about himself, "I am not a lawyer, and specifically not a patent lawyer. I have never spent a lot of time on learning about the intricacies of patent law" has to say on the matter at this point? In fact, why would I care even what experienced patent lawyers have to say now? Hasn't it been definitively settled by i4i's statement?

What hasn't been settled by i4i's statement is the (IMO false) claim that the MS patent affects ODF more than the i4i patent does.

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (2, Informative)

Miseph (979059) | more than 4 years ago | (#29114915)

The patent owner may hold that opinion right now... they might not hold that opinion in the future, and until they put it into some sort of legally binding statement (which I seriously doubt they have) it doesn't mean a damned thing.

Re:The MS patent does not affect ODF. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29115139)

IANAL but I believe that the term is Estoppel and it doesn't take a lawyer to put an estoppel into place either.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estoppel

But the article doesn't quote anyone from i4i so the we can't be certain that ODF is clear. If i4i puts out a public relations statement or something of that sort stating that ODF does not infringe upon their patent then they have applied an estoppel to an infringement case against ODF on this particular patent.

Gold digging? (2, Interesting)

reginaldo (1412879) | more than 4 years ago | (#29111967)

I wonder if this is a decision made based off knowledge of the law, or based off of the respective wallet size of software organizations.

Why spend money on litigation against OpenOffice if you don't get a $290 mil return on investment.

Re:Gold digging? (4, Informative)

Adaptux (1235736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112011)

It's a decision based on the facts of the matter. OOXML has a mechanism (called "CustomXML") which does what the i4i patent describes. ODF doesn't have anything like it.

Re:Gold digging? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112337)

Hoppa hoppa jamma, DOWG! Daddy whack whack. Say WHAT? Philco 50 transister, BABY! You know it. SMOKIN' Joe! Know what I mean? KNOW WHAT I MEAN? I'm sayin' SKIN! Three better than one! Is that DEEP fried? Can't find me love when the FREAK is spinning. SAY WHAT?

Gold digging. (2, Interesting)

baboo_jackal (1021741) | more than 4 years ago | (#29115239)

Actually, the patent [uspto.gov] does no such thing. The i4i patent describes an algorithm to separate the tags and plaintext of a markup-language document into two separate files, where the locations of the tags are defined by the character position at which they would have appeared in the original, embedded-tag document.

i4i claims to have patented the concept of storing a document's raw data and formatting data separately, rather than inline. Given that Microsoft Word's Custom XML stores its markup inline, I hardly see how i4i's patent applies here.

Also, on a *totally* unrelated topic, guess who, in 2000, won a multimillion dollar contract to provide XML authoring software to the US Patent office? i4i. http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/473021 [internetnews.com]

Re:Gold digging? (-1, Redundant)

arbiter1 (1204146) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112073)

yea, openoffice is free so there is little to no money in sueing them, but microsoft there is millions in there

Re:Gold digging? (5, Insightful)

Adaptux (1235736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112171)

yea, openoffice is free so there is little to no money in sueing them, but microsoft there is millions in there

Sun is distributing OpenOffice, and is legally liable for any patent infringement that would be involved. Pretty soon Oracle will be legally responsible. There is plenty of money there to be gotten by a patent infringement lawsuit, if there was a case to be made. But OpenOffice simply doesn't infringe any patents on OOXML's extension mechanisms simply because ODF doesn't have any such extension mechanisms.

Re:Gold digging? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29113251)

I'm sure you'll notice that Sun and Oracle disclaim any liability whatsoever, and that even if they were found to be infringing, the most they'd do is change the code to avoid the infringement.

Re:Gold digging? (1)

Adaptux (1235736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29116321)

I'm sure you'll notice that Sun and Oracle disclaim any liability whatsoever.

Microsoft also routinely disclaims all liability that can possibly be disclaimed. So what?

Re:Gold digging? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112109)

Mod parent FLAME BROILED BAZOOKA JOE! It's KRYKIE MAD! The doodz ain't got no java. Spin doctors recomend ACTION BABY ACTION! Jamma jamma jamma. WORD.

Re:Gold digging? (2, Insightful)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112821)

Oracle still makes billions of dollars, even if Microsoft makes more than them.

Re:Gold digging? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29113035)

The summary is wrong. The article linked [bnet.com] doesn't support the idea that i4i think OpenOffice.org isn't infringing, only that OpenDocument isn't infringing.

No matter who wins (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29111995)

We lose.

Re:No matter who wins (3, Interesting)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112151)

I think it's funny. Microsoft steps right into a landmines of patents, and problems and complications seem to go off at every turn. Ironic? A little bit. Come on, it's a little funny.

Re:No matter who wins (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112311)

It would be a lot funnier if it were Apple. I hate Microsoft but it seems like almost every time they're in court, I end up on their side.

Re:No matter who wins (2, Funny)

rsborg (111459) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112805)

It would be a lot funnier if it were Apple.

I think it would even more funny and ironic if it were "big patent" IBM [windowsitpro.com] (or as fake steve jobs calls em: "The Original Borg").

Re:No matter who wins (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29113887)

Yup. I think it's because the patent system is inherently anti-consumer. Whether MS itself is pro- or anti-consumer doesn't seem to matter, every time they get in patent trouble it's the consumer who loses out, and usually over something that shouldn't really be patentable at all. Remember that viewing a spreadsheet as a database table thing? Where somehow it was patentable that one thing whose most obvious representation is a grid be mappable to something else whose most obvious representation is a grid. Net result: consumer lost a feature for no technical reason whatsoever. Anyway, if a system makes software worse, as a programmer and a user I think that system needs to be abolished.
And the extra problem with such patent litigation is the broadness of the patents. The patents are so broad, they could easily apply to other (free) software as well, or they might unless Sun never adds certain features to OOo - how is that still free software? How can there be? Even if patent owners say they'll never sue over the patent, there's no guarantee that they won't, and certainly no guarantee they won't sue derivative software. And even so, I think it's unfair that a private entity could tell companies A, B and C to go and compete in the marketplace while withholding the patent licence from D, E, and F. And not just unfair to those companies (or rather the people making a living working for them, I know of course that companies don't have feelings) but it's also bad for the consumer as it reduces healthy competition.
And at a risk of swerving off-topic, I think that MS getting sued is bad for the consumer goes beyond the patent system. It always ends up with lawyers and judges demanding changes in software, which invariable cripples it, or a huge fine which ends up on the plate of the consumer. Saying that the consumer can choose something else is a) still not very realistic at the moment and b) even though I'm a huge free software fan I think it sounds like abuse of the legal system. On the whole I think I'd rather have a sound legal system, free software will win in the long run anyway.

Re:No matter who wins (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112323)

I think it's funny. Microsoft steps right into a landmines of patents, and problems and complications seem to go off at every turn. Ironic? A little bit. Come on, it's a little funny.

You know what else is a little funny? The word "jigaboo". I mean, look at it. I feel silly even saying it.

Re:No matter who wins (2, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#29113085)

I think it's funny. Microsoft steps right into a landmines of patents, and problems and complications seem to go off at every turn. Ironic? A little bit. Come on, it's a little funny.

Only if you find the decay of human civilizations funny. No one is immune to this nonsense and in the end innovation grinds to a halt and everything goes backwards until the current IP laws are replaced with something saner and more sustainable. In the meantime expect to see less progress on everything from things that make your life more convenient to medical technology your life may depend on.

Re:No matter who wins (1)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | more than 4 years ago | (#29114499)

Only if you find the decay of human civilizations funny.

Hey, somebody discovered the slippery slope fallacy!

Re:No matter who wins (1)

Qubit (100461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29115439)

Slippery phallusy what?

Oh shucks, that's a'nuher one of 'em homophones!

(Not to be confused with a homonym which, at least according to the linguists, must share both the same pronunciation and spelling. Silly linguists!)

Re:No matter who wins (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 4 years ago | (#29116155)

Hey, somebody discovered the slippery slope fallacy!

Hey, somebody discovered the Slippery Slope Fallacy Fallacy. That is to say, the "slippery slope fallacy" states that just because we have stepped closer to the cliff edge, doesn't mean we'll take further steps. The "slippery slope fallacy fallacy" states that just because we haven't proven the additional steps will be taken, doesn't mean we haven't just reduced the number of steps needing to be taken to reach the cliff edge.

I know what they can do... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112075)

Word should be updated to greet users with a message every time they open a document: "Click to activate."

Patent trolls love "Click to activate."

Gold mining! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112113)

i4i is suing microsoft because they do have millions, but open office doesn't, plus open office gives out the software for free.

I wonder if i4i is part of the Apple Corporation.....

After Diligent Analysis... (-1, Redundant)

fooslacker (961470) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112129)

We have determined that OpenOffice does not have enough assets to have infringed upon or patent. Should they ever become a multi-billion dollar, multi-national corporate behemoth we will revisit the situation.

Sincerely,

The Patent Trolls

Re:After Diligent Analysis... (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#29113327)

...Should they ever become a multi-billion dollar, multi-national corporate behemoth we will revisit the situation.

You mean like Sun, and soon Oracle?

Just because a product is free doesn't mean the company responsible isn't loaded to the gills with $billions.

Oracle doesn't have as many $billions as Microsoft has, sure, but they still have $billions. That Open Office is open makes it a choice target if it does, in fact, infringe on any patents.

Re:After Diligent Analysis... (1)

fooslacker (961470) | more than 4 years ago | (#29113561)

Actually no, I meant holding enough of the market to be worth billions. What happens if they put a cease and desist on Oracle? Nothing, oracle doesn't ship it anymore (to my knowledge).

Maybe they win a one time judgement but that's not their current strategy with MS. Their current strategy is to stop the shipments and try to force negotiations for patent license fees.

Rich feature set (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112169)

if you just make sure any otherwise infringing format is only associated with an application lacking in the feature richness department

Any XML document is associated with the feature "poorest" application imaginable; the plain text editor. Perhaps a text editor with UTF-16 support or such, but still something that handles characters and nothing else.

eye for eye? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112195)

i41 welcome our eye gouging overlords... ouch

Apply Bilski forcefully with unilaterally (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112207)

What does XML have to do with anything? Microsoft's XML based office format notwithstanding, XML is a text-based data storage and interchange format. Putting things in a container to make them easy to store and transport cannot possibly be non-obvious or novel. Can I get a patent on storing the Amero in a billfold (digital or otherwise)?

For all the talk about improving patent quality, the patent holders real colors come out when they start challenging Bilski.

Re:Apply Bilski forcefully with unilaterally (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112731)

Bilski only dealt with 'method' claims. The 1st set of claims 'system' claims were not discussed by Bilski.

Bilski dealt with 101, whether certain methods qualified as patentable subject matter. Bilski has nothing to do with obviousness or novelty (sections 103 and 102 of 35 U.S.C the laws dealing with patents)

What about notepad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112257)

What about notepad or notepad++ or vi or emacs or wordperfect or abiword or kate or ped or ...

I can create custom XML with any text editor. i4i, whether they realise it or not, have just completely destroyed the proprietary software industry in one fell swoop.

For I can also create custom XML in a hex editor, or a spreadsheet or ... you name it and I can probably use it to create custom XML.

It all belongs to i4i now.

Soooo... i4i, are you going to strengthen the notoriously weak statistical functions in your spreadsheet product? What's that? You never took math? Just an MBA? Oh, I see. Well then, what do we do now?

The courts just don't have a clue. They do not realise the implications of this decision. Multi-billion dollar implications. The death of an entire industry implications. Lawyers will never understand science and should stop pretending they do. The DNA thing is another example, I have been telling them that for years.

The law has no place in science. None. To paraphrase a great Canadian: The law has no place in the laboratories of the nation.

Re:What about notepad? (5, Insightful)

The Empiricist (854346) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112877)

I can create custom XML with any text editor. i4i, whether they realise it or not, have just completely destroyed the proprietary software industry in one fell swoop.

I think you may be overreacting a bit. Whether the patent is valid or not (an appellate decision might prove that it is not), it certainly isn't as broad in scope as you are suggesting. Microsoft may end up having to remove some infrequently used functionality from Word, but the software industry as we know it is not going to come to an end because of this injunction.

The courts just don't have a clue. They do not realise the implications of this decision. Multi-billion dollar implications. The death of an entire industry implications. Lawyers will never understand science and should stop pretending they do. The DNA thing is another example, I have been telling them that for years.

Before characterizing the courts as completely clueless, you might want to go through the court's memorandum opinion and order [uscourts.gov] (PACER registration required, but no cost for this document) denying Microsoft's motion for judgment as a matter of law. It is a detailed memorandum (65 pages, double-spaced, 12-pt font) that gives quite a bit of detail as to why the judge decided to uphold the jury's verdict. Go through it and decide for yourself whether the evidence and arguments presented by Microsoft were so convincing that no reasonably jury would have found for i4i.

The law has no place in science. None. To paraphrase a great Canadian: The law has no place in the laboratories of the nation.

Cute, but seriously, take a closer look at what the real issues are in this case. If you don't try to understand the facts that drive a particular case, your arguments regarding the law and the way courts apply it will sound more like pseudoscience [skepdic.com] than science. Good science is based on facts. Good legal arguments are based on facts too.

Re:What about notepad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29113511)

Ah I see. Selective law enforcement. Pardon me, I had forgotten.

Re:What about notepad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29115199)

No need to paraphrase I'll come right out with the quote that applies ..... "You sir are an idiot."

If you need an explanation as to why .... then I'm very sorry your idiocy is terminal.

US Government has NO STANDING (-1, Troll)

j0ebaker (304465) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112281)

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA1

Microsoft should use it's legal force to show how the US Government has NO STANDING to enforce any laws.

Oh, well maybe Microsoft has a vested interest in having organized criminals (government jackboot thugs) enforce imaginary concepts such as "software patents".

My vision of anarchy is more beautiful than the best garden you've ever seen.

Serve "public officials" a notice of demand today that they are trespassing upon your sovereignty.

- -Joe
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: GnuPG v1.4.9 (GNU/Linux Remove spaces from string)

iEYEAR ECAAYFA kqLKdY ACgkQ7 J1dPd3 sAmDTWwC fX7ow MKjy qwP6eg U3nVB eoh vx
DQMA n1nnB MIWPW z2ub3+ twDQP DBl2oqZ
=Zytv
-----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

Hard to believe... (4, Funny)

Jahava (946858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112423)

I find that hard to believe; in fact, I've heard that an i4i leaves everyone blind.

Although, that quote is oddly applicable, as blind (along with lame, deaf, and dumb) is more or less the result of the ongoing software patent trends.

Feature Rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112457)

"just make sure any otherwise infringing format is only associated with an application lacking in the feature richness department."

Not emacs then...

Telling? (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112555)

Microsoft ... [is] telling the Supreme Court to apply the Bilski ruling narrowly

Asking, you mean.

Re:Telling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112591)

Strongly suggesting, you mean.

Re:Telling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29112719)

Biribing, you mean.

Re:Telling? (4, Insightful)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29113189)

It's Microsoft. "Telling" more accurately connotes their arrogant attitude when dealing with such petty nuisances as the U.S. Court system.

Re:Telling? (0, Redundant)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 4 years ago | (#29113493)

Well, if they're filing an amicus curiae brief, those tend more towards telling than asking. It's literally an outside party interjecting its opinion as to the law and the facts. With the court's permission, Microsoft is telling the court its opinion as to relevant facts or legal arguments not covered by the court. Strictly speaking, they're not asking the court for a specific ruling unless they're an original party or an intervener. Officially, they're telling the court what standards they think the court should apply to patents, but they have no official standing to ask the court to implement those standards, they can only offer input. Yeah, that's a technicality, but "telling" is the correct word, even if the summary isn't great.

Someone doesn't quite understand patents (4, Interesting)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112779)

After all, unlike most companies and individuals, Microsoft can afford $290 million infringement fines.

This has absolutely no bearing on whether or not Microsoft will be allowed to continue shipping Word.

i4i is entirely within their right not to license the patent to Microsoft, even if/after Microsoft pays the fines and damages.

Re:Someone doesn't quite understand patents (1)

Tsujiku (902045) | more than 4 years ago | (#29115549)

And Microsoft can remove the infringing feature without having to purchase a license to do so.

They're ALLOWED to ship Word minus custXML! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29116581)

> This has absolutely no bearing on whether or not Microsoft will be allowed to continue shipping Word.

The permanent injunction itself explicitly allows Microsoft to continue shipping Word. All they have to do is remove the custom XML feature. It looks like they changed my link to the Slashdot story about it, and I don't blame them, but the original linked to the Groklaw story [groklaw.net] on the permanent injunction and you can read the terms of it here [groklaw.net] .

The judge's order spells out how they're allowed to deal with documents containing custom XML in future Word versions. They're *only* forbidden to ship current, infringing versions. They do NOT have to license the patent unless they believe that they need to keep the feature. Even if it was completely impossible to remove for some reason, the absolute worst they could possibly have to do is to revert their source control to the version of Word before they added the feature, then rebuild from there.

The injunction is nowhere near as bad as it appears to be in the press. I thought my original summary made clear exactly what the terms of the injunction were, but they appear to have trimmed that part, too. I remember quoting a fair bit of the judge's order which would have made things a lot clearer.

- I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property [eff.org]

some resellers are not honoring the injuction... (1)

justdrew (706141) | more than 4 years ago | (#29112839)

our volume education source is still making Word available... FYI

Bilski bites both ways (2, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#29113355)

> and they're telling the Supreme Court to apply the
> Bilski ruling narrowly, so that it doesn't
> invalidate patents like theirs

Microsoft is in a bit of a bind here. Even raising Bilski arguments puts their patent in question as well as providing ammunition for any future challenges of Microsoft patents.

Their best bet is to pretend they never heard of Bilski and find other grounds for their challenge, or just license i4i's technology to preserve their own claims.

A pox on both their houses.

Re:Bilski bites both ways (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29115679)

Actually, IIRC Microsoft sent an Amicus Curiae brief to the US Supreme Court about the Bilski case. Saying that they wholeheartedly support software patents. So screw 'em.

I just can't believe (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29113827)

all the shills here still trying to call I4i a patent troll. It's been proven conclusively that they do not fit the definition, and they have said their patent isn't violated by ODF, yet the same old lies just keep on coming.

I can't believe the lack of ethics and outright lying that goes on here. I'd have to hide my head in shame if I were caught in the lies being told here. Yet, here are shills still trumpeting their crap.

It's no wonder the US is going down the tubes and our society is collapsing as this type of behavior is unsustainable in any society. However, there is a fairly large segment of our population that just doesn't care or aren't smart enough to realize what their actions cause. A short term dollar for a very large long-term loss is a lousy trade.

For a few bucks they will shit in their own back yard and destroy their own society. IMO, that makes them dumber than any dog I've ever owned. At least none of my dogs would ever shit in their own back yard.

You say this is harsh? Go read about how Rome's, and every other major civilization's, society crumbled and you'll see the same exact types of behavior. We are on the road to repeating their failures if things don't change.

Good... (1)

motang (1266566) | more than 4 years ago | (#29113863)

Good as I use OpenOffice, and there isn't anything that is any good other than OpenOffice on Linux side that I know of for starving students.

What is non-custom XML? (2, Interesting)

radarsat1 (786772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29114361)

What I just completely fail to understand about this patent (i4i's patent I mean) is the words "custom XML". I keep seeing this term "custom XML" as part of its claims. But XML stands for the eXtensible Markup Language. It was designed to be customised. I don't understand,

  • What is their definition of "custom XML"?
  • What is "non-custom" XML? ("Standard XML"?)
  • How they can seemingly get a patent on a usage scenario that XML was specifically designed for?

What leap of logic am I missing here? (Having, obviously, not read the patent.)

Re:What is non-custom XML? (1)

Adaptux (1235736) | more than 4 years ago | (#29116045)

"CustomXML" has a specific meaning in the OOXML spec, and there is a corresponding API in Microsoft's "Word" product that plugins can use. See here [msdn.com] for an explanation of what it is about.

Custom XML is just a marketing term (1)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 4 years ago | (#29116621)

i4i's patent is here [google.com] . customXML is just the name of the infringing feature in Microsoft Word, which is why it's referenced as such in the judgment. It's part of the OOXML specification, as well (not that anyone but Microsoft uses that).

In other words, 'customXML' is just a name for a particular way of using XML. It does NOT mean that every way of customizing XML has been patented (though I'm sure there are people trying to do that...).

In a related note, I wish that people would stop saying that Microsoft can't sell Word. They can sell Word. They just have to remove the custom XML feature from it first. The permanent injunction even spells out how to go about removing the feature.

Translation: (3, Interesting)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29114643)

There's no money in enforcing a patent against Open Office, so we won't sue you. Should you start making a lot of money, we'll get back to you with our updated policy.

Re:Translation: (1)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 4 years ago | (#29116245)

There's no money in enforcing a patent against Open Office, so we won't sue you.

Particularly when "you" (ODF) in fact don't violate our patent, and have nothing in your standard that is even analogous to our patent.

Should you start making a lot of money, we'll get back to you with our updated policy.

Good luck with that. See above.

actual explanation (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29114813)

This piece by Amy Wohl [typepad.com] is the only writing on this subject that comes remotely close to explaining what is going on.

In short, i4i's patent only covers some specific use of XML that is only widely used in the medical field. Microsoft is violating that particular patent.

i4i is apparently not claiming that they own a patent against all of XML or anything.

Solution (1)

MORB (793798) | more than 4 years ago | (#29115915)

1.Serialize ODF into JSON instead of XML
2.Laugh at both "office documents serialized into xml" patent trolls
3.profit

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