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Federal Court Grants Microsoft Expedited Appeal

samzenpus posted about 5 years ago | from the the-train-keeps-a-rolling dept.

Microsoft 88

patentpundit writes "On Friday, August 21, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit granted Microsoft an expedited appeal of its patent infringement loss to i4i Limited Partnership. On August 11, 2009, Microsoft lost a $300 million judgment for infringing the XML patents of i4i by selling Word. Microsoft was given 60 days to stop selling Word, or implement work arounds that did not utilize the infringed technology. Microsoft filed an emergency appeal with the Federal Circuit, and requested a stay of the permanent injunction that will force them to stop selling work 60 days from August 11, 2009. The Federal Circuit granted an expedited oral argument, which will take place on September 23, 2009. Microsoft requested an administrative stay of the permanent injunction, which was denied, and then filed a petition to stay the injunction pending appeal. i4i has until August 25, 2009, to respond to Microsoft's request to stay the injunction pending appeal."

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If they get hit enough like that... (2, Interesting)

youn (1516637) | about 5 years ago | (#29154797)

they might help reform the patent system

Re:If they get hit enough like that... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154875)

they might help reform the patent system

This is small fry for MS. They have a massive arsenal of junk patents they can hit others around with, and an even bigger cash reserve to tie almost anyone up in court until they go bankrupt or give up. MS will never want to change the existing system.

Re:If they get hit enough like that... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#29155713)

What you say is perfectly true. But, if/when the courts get fed up with refereeing the "corporate wars", then the courts may well strike down the whole software patent idea. (Yes, lawyers can find a way to do that, and courts are POPULATED with lawyers)

Whether that scenario ever happened or not, corporations will lose tons of money to the corporate wars. MS knows that, as well as every other company out there that holds patents. They don't WANT a corporate patent war, which is made obvious by all the out of court settlements that have been made over the years.

These few millions may well be chump change to MS, but when the real shooting starts, they may be nickle and dimed to death. How many other places are they liable? For instance - I've never really chased down their 32 bit disk access. I know that Digital Research managed to develop 32 bit access before MS. Maybe MS infringes on DR's patent? Did DR file a patent?

See, it's one huge can of worms!

Everyone would benefit in the long run if software patents were outlawed, and pushed into the realm of copyright.

Re:If they get hit enough like that... (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 5 years ago | (#29154915)

In this case, they've been trying to do everything but. So far, their defense strategy has been to attempt to paint i4i as a patent troll who never had a product, and therefore should not have been granted a patent. That's kind of silly considering that i4i actually does have a product, and if you look at the screenshot on this page describing one of their products [i4i.com] , it's apparent that they have had an implementation of their patent for quite a while (Word 2000 is pictured).

So far, they haven't actually attacked the patent because doing so might invalidate one or more of their own patents. They haven't attacked the patent system or any patent laws not only because they have considerable resources invested in that patent system, but because any change in the patent system really needs to happen at the legislative level and it really isn't likely that a court is going to invalidate the entire patent system.

As much as I'd like to see Microsoft directly attack the patent system itself and fight for patent reform, I just don't think it's going to happen in a court room, and I don't see Microsoft fighting a system in earnest that they have profited so much from.

And I don't blame them. It isn't up to them to bring about patent reform. It's ultimately up to We, The People.

Re:If they get hit enough like that... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154945)

It isn't up to them to bring about patent reform.

So M$ is owned and run by aliens now?

They are people and have just as much responsibility as anybody to try and fix the system. More so because they have financial clout and the ears of legislature.

Or to put it another way: being part of a company doesn't give the people involved a mystical get-out-of-jail free card to be irresponsible or unethical.

Re:If they get hit enough like that... (5, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | about 5 years ago | (#29154997)

"Or to put it another way: being part of a company doesn't give the people involved a mystical get-out-of-jail free card to be irresponsible or unethical."

I disagree. We, the people of the west, have allowed our governments and corporations to turn the ideals of free market action into an unholy marriage between all three arms of government and the powerful elite of the private sector. We have allowed powerful members of industry and government to usurp the right to do anything they want, so long as they can afford lawyers to justify their actions, ethical or otherwise. Don't like it? Sorry, it's a two party system, and both parties play the same game. You want real change? Sorry, you won't get it by voting.

-1, Uncomfortable Truth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29155027)

You speak the truth.

Re:If they get hit enough like that... (3, Interesting)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 5 years ago | (#29155087)

Don't like it? Sorry, it's a two party system, and both parties play the same game. You want real change? Sorry, you won't get it by voting.

Ever heard of the 1960s? We got real change then, and what it required was grass roots efforts.

Re:If they get hit enough like that... (2, Interesting)

SBrach (1073190) | about 5 years ago | (#29155425)

I prefer the (apparently temporary) results of the grass root efforts of the 70's..............the 1770's.

Re:If they get hit enough like that... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 5 years ago | (#29156525)

As do I, but I prefer a...less bloody solution. OTOH, sometimes I doubt we'll get one.

Re:If they get hit enough like that... (1)

Eivind Eklund (5161) | about 5 years ago | (#29161127)

"Or to put it another way: being part of a company doesn't give the people involved a mystical get-out-of-jail free card to be irresponsible or unethical."

I disagree. We, the people of the west, have allowed our governments and corporations to turn the ideals of free market action into an unholy marriage between all three arms of government and the powerful elite of the private sector. We have allowed powerful members of industry and government to usurp the right to do anything they want, so long as they can afford lawyers to justify their actions, ethical or otherwise. Don't like it? Sorry, it's a two party system, and both parties play the same game.

The west != the US. Though I feel your pain and would like for you to have a more citizen-influenced system, it is good to know that there are countries with systems that do give that.

Re:If they get hit enough like that... (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 5 years ago | (#29156025)

Or to put it another way: being part of a company doesn't give the people involved a mystical get-out-of-jail free card to be irresponsible or unethical.

Oh really?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_veil [wikipedia.org]

Time for a 'new XML', perhaps (4, Insightful)

BeanThere (28381) | about 5 years ago | (#29155481)

i4i may have 'a product', but really isn't anything particularly incredible ... it's basically just XML authoring via parsed-back transformed output. Whoopty-do - this is something quite basic and that could and should become commonplace in many, many different applications in future. A 'product' does not make a patent-able invention. Microsoft may be abusing the system, but i4i is worse, they're still behaving like a blatant patent troll, probably because their 'product' just isn't special anymore. We're just talking about a fight between two unethical companies ... much as I can't stand Microsoft, i4i is even worse here - they're actually *doing* what Microsoft so far has only had the veiled threat of doing via their patents.

Now the real problem with all this (as well as MS's own patents on XML-based word processing) is that it has destroyed the entire purpose of XML. XML was adopted by industry as a counter-measure to the many proprietary binary "lock-in" formats of the 80s and 90s. Initially it seemed like it was going to serve this purpose, but XML is now so ridiculously over-encumbered with bogus, obvious patents that it's impossible to create any "serious" useful new XML-based applications without infringing patents. In other words, industry has succeeded in making XML the "new" proprietary lock-in format.

MS and i4i will both continue to make reams of money relative to their sizes. The real losers here are the general public, customers of the IT industry, and potential small-business competitors/entrepreneurs.

Time for a new "XML"? This time, with a stipulation in the licensing that no patents may be made over the format.

Poetic justice (2, Interesting)

Xenographic (557057) | about 5 years ago | (#29162043)

Well, to be fair, Microsoft didn't just come up with customXML on its own, they "partnered" with i4i, learned all about their product, then copied what they wanted from it and shafted i4i. While I do NOT like software patents and think they should be abolished, I'm not really going to defend Microsoft here. They're getting a bit of poetic justice, IMHO.

Granted, I would like this lawsuit to instead concern whatever contracts Microsoft had with i4i instead of patent law (claims which aren't worth pursuing when you can get $300 million judgments from patent claims), but I honestly think that this case is, overall, a good thing because it:

A) Highlights how ridiculously overpowered software patents--even those for fairly trivial "inventions"--have become.
B) Punishes one of the biggest proponents of software patents, proving that they were lying when they talked up how much they "respect" IP.

So make no mistake: I still want to abolish software patents completely. They're patents on mathematics (and there's mathematical proof of their equivalence available [haskell.org] ) and they shouldn't exist. But as long as they do exist, I can think of nothing better to happen than for their biggest proponents to get shafted by one of the patents.

Re:Poetic justice (1)

BeanThere (28381) | about 5 years ago | (#29162993)

But as long as they do exist, I can think of nothing better to happen than for their biggest proponents to get shafted by one of the patents.

The problem is that even when companies like MS get "shafted" by the patent system, they still overall come out ahead by using and abusing that system - and as long as they overall come out ahead (and they will - like I said, I'm sure both MS and i4i will make truckloads of money in the coming years), then they remain satisfied with the system, and the public continues to lose.

In fact, it's nothing new for big companies like MS to get "shafted" by this system --- consider, for example, the reason that Microsoft invested and played an important part in the revival of Apple after Jobs re-joined --- why would Microsoft help boost their own competition, to their detriment? Patents ... Apple held a bunch of patents that MS infringed, and they made a deal with MS. And i4i is small fry compared to Apple.

So even after worse "shaftings", they still support the system, because the system still helps them overall.

No, the only winners here are MS and i4i, the losers are us, the public, and this case will do absolutely nothing to help get the system fixed.

Re:Poetic justice (1)

frederickroyceperez (865361) | about 5 years ago | (#29166595)

[IJ Reilly macrumors 603 Join Date: Jul 2002 Location: Palookaville The $150 million investment was a part of the settlement of a long-running patent dispute between Apple and Microsoft. It's not really known for certain when or even if Microsoft sold the shares, but it seems likely that they divested them at their earliest opportunity. The $4 billion figure was I believe roughly Apple's market capitalization in 1997. They had about $1.2 billion cash on hand at the time.] - I was under the impression that MS had mistaken Quicktime as a Redmond product , which caused bits of concern in Cupertino . I was further under the impression that the non voting stock purchased by MS was sold back to Apple when it was agreeable to Apple to do so .-

Re:If they get hit enough like that..THE PROB HERE (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 5 years ago | (#29157013)

And I don't blame them. It isn't up to them to bring about patent reform. It's ultimately up to We, The People.

The problem is that We (Most of) The People don't have a clue on why this should matter to us.

cynical (1, Insightful)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | about 5 years ago | (#29154799)

Why do I get the feeling that MS will find a way to weasel out of this? They seem to have been caught directly lifting code from someone else's stuff who was relying on that to make money and putting it into their own. No uncertainty, no sympathy -- This is a classic Embrance, Extend, Extinguish move for which they are famous. It's premature to say justice has failed (again!) so maybe I'm just being cynical but history has taught me that might makes right in the U.S. and too often in the courts the winner is the one with the most cash and the one who is willing to use the most dirty tricks.

Re:cynical (4, Informative)

hansraj (458504) | about 5 years ago | (#29154817)

They seem to have been caught directly lifting code from someone else's stuff who was relying on that to make money and putting it into their own.

They have been accused of patent-infringement. That means that even the patent holders aren't accusing MS of stealing code directly. Had that been the case, MS would have been accused of copyright infringement as well.

Muddying the differences between patents, copyright, and trademark is part of the reason why debates about "intellectual property" is often confused.

Re:cynical (5, Informative)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | about 5 years ago | (#29155159)

They have been accused of patent-infringement.

First, they have been found GUILTY of willful patent infringement, not just accused. Second, if you would actually take the time to read about what MS did [theglobeandmail.com] instead of giving a knee-jerk reaction "Ooh patents are bad!" and comprehend it, you'll see that MS approached i4i about working together on national security issues and then STOLE THEIR CODE.

Muddying the differences between patents, copyright, and trademark is part of the reason why debates about "intellectual property" is often confused.

The only person muddying the waters here is you, because you are trying to paint MS' actions in a decent light, when they are clearly, clearly in the wrong. I can only think that i4i went to court under patent law instead of copyright infringement because they thought it was a more open and shut case. That or, the MS Office programmers were smart enough to cover their tracks and that copyright infringement wasn't possible to prove unequivocally.

Re:cynical (2, Informative)

hansraj (458504) | about 5 years ago | (#29156167)

No need to jump on my throat, pal. Had my reaction been knee-jerk, it would have had a bit more emotional outburst.

First, they have been found GUILTY of willful patent infringement, not just accused.

I stand corrected.

you'll see that MS approached i4i about working together on national security issues and then STOLE THEIR CODE.

I didn't really see that claim in the article you linked to. I might have missed it though as I didn't read it thoroughly. The closest thing to stealing anything, as mentioned in the article, was about MS "pinching the technology".

The only person muddying the waters here is you, because you are trying to paint MS' actions in a decent light, when they are clearly, clearly in the wrong.

You are reading too much into what I wrote. Nowhere did I hint that the actions of MS were justified. Hell, I didn't even hint that patents were a bad thing, just that patents and copyrights were different beasts and it is important to make the distinction every time one talks about them.

That or, the MS Office programmers were smart enough to cover their tracks and that copyright infringement wasn't possible to prove unequivocally.

And how would they hide their tracks and copy code at the same time? I would suppose that they did it by writing their own code but doing things the way covered in the patent granted to i4i, hence patent violation.

Re:cynical (0, Flamebait)

pagan1 (1616867) | about 5 years ago | (#29154821)

i cant help but think Justice would be better served if it was all taking place in a Euro court..

Re:cynical (0, Flamebait)

jmac_the_man (1612215) | about 5 years ago | (#29154929)

The European "You have to provide a choice of web browsers" decision was really just a tax on a non-European company. The point wasn't the choice of web browsers, the point was the fine that Microsoft had to pay. I'm much more comfortable that Justice will be served with this taking place in a court that actually deserves some jurisdiction over the litigants.

Re:cynical (4, Insightful)

MrNaz (730548) | about 5 years ago | (#29155009)

So you think that operating in and earning billions from a foreign market shouldn't be reason to be subject to the jurisdiction of that foreign market?

Re:cynical (1)

BeanThere (28381) | about 5 years ago | (#29155565)

I don't think he was really saying that. Being subject to the jurisdiction of a foreign market is fine in principle, but is totally independent of whether or not that jurisdiction is ethical and valid. Sure a foreign market can impose conditions, but not just any old conditions they like - nor should such conditions be above criticism if they are unethical themselves. As an extreme example, just to demonstrate the point, they might stipulate that the CEO must sacrifice his first-born child --- if someone attempted to criticise such a stipulation, would you remain equally inclined to slam them for thinking they should not have to abide by such stipulations? No --- the validity of particular stipulations is separate to the issue of whether or not stipulations may be imposed at all.

Re:cynical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29155873)

If you think that Europe unfairly pushes its corporate agenda using its government, then you need to take a good, long, hard look at the history of the US's influence over global trade rules and its so called desire for "free trade".

Hint: Free trade = Free under rules that they define using their geopolitical muscle to force smaller nations to acquiesce to.

Re:cynical (1)

BeanThere (28381) | about 5 years ago | (#29155999)

Again (presuming you're the same person), I made absolutely no such claim. In fact, I made no value judgments about anything at all. I don't know enough about the Europe MS ruling to do so. I only commented on the structure of the argument made by jmac_the_man, and the argumentally structural incorrectness of the reply by MrNaz. Read again, you'll see.

Re:cynical (1)

rohan972 (880586) | about 5 years ago | (#29160101)

Sure a foreign market can impose conditions, but not just any old conditions they like

In that case foreign countries don't have sovereignty then, since someone (you?) gets veto rights over what market regulations they may impose. There are countries that have laws I find reprehensible. I have the choice to not go there or go and argue those laws in the courts of that country. If you choose the court option you have no grounds for complaint should the ruling not go your way.

Re:cynical (2, Insightful)

jmac_the_man (1612215) | about 5 years ago | (#29156021)

Remember, the initial topic we were talking about is justice. If everybody had to play a reasonable set of rules, that would be just. In this case, Apple, commercial Linux distros (i.e. the ones that have assets that can be seized), and every other player in the OS market would be forced to provide the choice to ONLY have one browser installed, and it should come from the list of the top five browsers by market share for that platform. (Yes, I'm aware that by and large, Linux distros will provide you with some choices, but it's not like it's any less trivial to install a new browser in Linux than it is in Windows.)

In this case, the "They're a convicted monopoly" argument is a ton of BS. (Specifically, a metric ton.) EVERY Operating System comes with the official browser of the people who made the operating system. Apple comes with Safari by default. Debian comes with Iceweasel. A KDE 3.5 system comes with Konqueror. ChromeOS will include Chrome. People expect a browser to be there, and the logic for everyone else seems to be "If they want A browser, we'll give them OUR browser." That seems to me like it should make perfect sense for Apple, Microsoft, and everyone else.

By the way, the complaint was brought by Opera, which is a European company. They said it should be the top 5 browsers by market share SPECIFICALLY because they are number 5. If they were number 8, they'd be looking for the top 8 browsers in the menu. (By the way, after IE, the browsers go Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera. It says something about Opera that Safari for Windows (which is horrible) is beating them.) The only reason the EU took this case was to benefit a European company at the expense of an American one. Oh, and they get to tax the American company. (That's what this fine is, a tax.) AND tools on Slashdot will think "M$ bad, therefore EU good" and mod you up to +4 insightful, and maybe vote for the incumbents the next time there's EU elections.

The bottom line here is that legislating the market away is not a just thing. It's bad when you're legislating everyone else out of the market, but it's also bad when you're legislating yourself into the market. That's the ONLY thing Opera is doing here.

Re:cynical (1)

10Ghz (453478) | about 5 years ago | (#29170771)

In this case, Apple, commercial Linux distros (i.e. the ones that have assets that can be seized), and every other player in the OS market would be forced to provide the choice to ONLY have one browser installed

Those other OS'es are not monopolies.

In this case, the "They're a convicted monopoly" argument is a ton of BS. (Specifically, a metric ton.) EVERY Operating System comes with the official browser of the people who made the operating system. Apple comes with Safari by default. Debian comes with Iceweasel. A KDE 3.5 system comes with Konqueror. ChromeOS will include Chrome.

None of those OS'es are monopolies. Only Windows is a monopoly, and it's illegal to use your monopoly in one are to gain monopoly in another area.

By the way, the complaint was brought by Opera, which is a European company.

So what? Most fines EU mandates for antitrust-violations are targetted at European companies.

The only reason the EU took this case was to benefit a European company at the expense of an American one.

That's a load of bullshit. Most fines and remedies EU mandates are targetted against European companies, not American,

Oh, and they get to tax the American company.

Don't be a retard. Oh wait, too late for that....

Re:cynical (1)

10Ghz (453478) | about 5 years ago | (#29170767)

The European "You have to provide a choice of web browsers" decision was really just a tax on a non-European company

If you actually bothered to check your facts, you would find out that most fines that EU hands down to companies for antitrust-violations are targeted at EUROPEAN companies. Of course those cases are not widely reported in USA, so drooling retards like you get the idea that EU is just bullying innocent American companies, while letting European companies do whatever they please.

Re:cynical (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154827)

They didn't lift code from i4i. It appears you can't see past your hatred of Microsoft.

Oh wait, this is Slashdot.

Re:cynical (2, Informative)

Kilz (741999) | about 5 years ago | (#29155341)

They didn't lift code from i4i. It appears you can't see past your hatred of Microsoft. Oh wait, this is Slashdot.

Your right this is slashdot, also home to some of the worlds biggest Microsoft fanboy's, and/or possibly astoturfers.
What you missed in all this was that you are confusing Copyright and a patent. So here is where you are going off.
1. Patents cover ideas.
2. Copyrights cover the specific use of language.

To infringe on a patent you do not have to copy anything but the idea. It doesn't matter if the words or code are the same or not. But that you implemented the patented idea.

Re:cynical (3, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 5 years ago | (#29155375)

To infringe on a patent, you do not even have to copy the idea. You an independently invent the same system, and that would still be patent infringement.

Re:cynical (1)

Kilz (741999) | about 5 years ago | (#29155395)

Thats an even more complex explanation of patent vs copyright. I seriously doubt those that cant even get that patents dont cover words will get that. I was trying to explain that patents cover, say for the sake of explaining, the idea of a scrollbar in a browser, vs the way its coded. Not that thats what this patents covered.

Re:cynical (1)

maharb (1534501) | about 5 years ago | (#29155479)

That is misleading. Patents do not just cover random ideas. I can't just patent teleporters right now because I thought of them. Generally the methodology behind how the system works is what is patented so that other similar ideas can still be generated without violating patents. So patents are about the 'code' or methodology used to accomplish something, not just the idea. In order to patent a teleporter I would need to patent a specific way of teleportation and if someone else came up with a different way to accomplish the same goal it would not violate my patent.

Basically patents are very specific and not as broad as you are explaining. It is very possible to have end results be the same as someone's patent but not violate that patent.

Re:cynical (1)

Kilz (741999) | about 5 years ago | (#29156387)

That depends on the wording of the patent. If I use consists of, yes specific things need to be there. If I use includes, it may only be one of the things I describe. Also patents on mechanical devices are quite different in there requirements that software or business patents. A device would indeed cover a specific "thing" needed to implement an idea. But in software specific coding is not needed. For that we have copyright, there is no copyright for devices.
Dont think I am for patents, or giving a all inclusive definition. The original person I replied to was confusing copyright and patents. Just dealing with software patents and not devices (hardware). Dont split hairs on a different example.

M$ Fanboy (Re:cynical) (1)

uassholes (1179143) | about 5 years ago | (#29156319)

Why does anybody reply except to say "you dumbass"?

Lifting code? Say what? (3, Interesting)

argent (18001) | about 5 years ago | (#29154859)

This is a patent case. A software patent case. A software patent *is* a dirty trick, and the target of the dirty trick in this case is Microsoft.

Haven't you ever seen one of those movies where the villains fall out with each other and there's a shootout in the hideout? Just because Microsoft's got a bad track record with software patents that doesn't mean the other guy isn't ALSO scum.

Re:Lifting code? Say what? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154935)

They partnered with i4i until they learned enough about the code, then kicked i4i in the butt and came out with their own implementation.
This is worse than when M$ accuses Wine/Samba etc for 'cloning' their products.
Wine/Samba etc coders didn't have the chance to READ and STUDY the original code.

Re:Lifting code? Say what? (3, Interesting)

the_arrow (171557) | about 5 years ago | (#29155121)

They partnered with i4i until they learned enough about the code, then kicked i4i in the butt and came out with their own implementation.

Ah, the standard Microsoft behavior.

Re:Lifting code? Say what? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#29168095)

Seriously. Given how often Microsoft has done this, it's hard to be sympathetic with the victims. Do they honestly think it's going to be different this time?

Got a link for that? (0, Flamebait)

argent (18001) | about 5 years ago | (#29155461)

They partnered with i4i until they learned enough about the code, then kicked i4i in the butt and came out with their own implementation.

ORLY. Got a link? All of the stories about this I've found read like it's just another patent troll incident.

Re:Got a link for that? (1)

eulernet (1132389) | about 5 years ago | (#29155687)

i4i is not a patent troll, since they have a product called x4o since at least 2003: http://www.i4i.com/x4o.htm [i4i.com] .

Here is an archive from the same page in February 2003: http://web.archive.org/web/20030207000848/http://www.i4i.com/x4o.htm [archive.org]

It seems their technology began in 1998:
http://web.archive.org/web/19981206121641/http://www.i4i.com/ [archive.org]

Extract:
S4 Toolkit for Microsoft Word!
A Head Start for your XML/SGML Development Team
Schedule a NetMeeting Demo Today!

Their first released product dates from 1999.
You can check the whole history here: http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.i4i.com [archive.org]

Re:Got a link for that? Why yes. Yes I do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29155771)

how is this link for you

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/the-biblical-vengeance-of-i4i/article1253054/

once again

Message to the Morons of the Microsoft blogoshpere and boneheads who refuse to RTFA

Mircosoft attempted to Embrace, Extend & Extinguish -- one of their own partner's patented and implemented products. This time the smaller ( now former) partner was better protected and successfully fought back

Re:Got a link for that? Why yes. Yes I do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29156557)

You should really read the article link you keep posting.
No where does it say that Microsoft stole code. Also, the article says the company created a software called "XML". That's complete bullshit, that's what happens when articles are written by journalist who don't understand the subject. And that's your primary source!

Re:Got a link for that? Why yes. Yes I do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29163905)

That's my one of the sources that says they are not a patent troll because they had a patented implementation that microsoft approached them for years ago.

So since we are discussing whether they are a patent troll --- yes my source answers the question.

If you want to start a discussion over the validity of their patent in particular, the validity of software patents or the lack of technical understanding in business journalists that is fine .... but at least attempt to address the original point of the arguement. Is i4i a patent troll?

IF your answer is yes they are please explain why you believe so.

Re:Got a link for that? And also... (2, Informative)

zkiwi34 (974563) | about 5 years ago | (#29156337)

Thanks for the links... (1)

argent (18001) | about 5 years ago | (#29157611)

Thanks for the links (you, eulernet, and the ACs as well).

This is the first case I've seen where a software patent might actually be working the way it's supposed to... and I've been following the subject since the early '80s when the Hayes patent was screwing up the whole modem market. So you got to understand why I'm a little skeptical.

Re:Lifting code? Say what? (1)

Anpheus (908711) | about 5 years ago | (#29155729)

Or they worked with i4i long enough to realize their patent was pretty thoroughly covered by prior art, considering their "invention" is a method of separating data from metadata describing the formatting, styling, etc, of the data.

It looks like if this patent holds up, they could hold the online world at gunpoint and demand everyone who uses CSS to pay up. I'm sure OpenOffice applies too, because it supports XML based styling and the like.

The really, really funny thing about this case is it has brought out more trolls than I can ever remember though. I mean, truly vociferous, loud and obnoxious trolls yelling, "THEY'RE NOT A PATENT TROLL!"

I have to wonder, is i4i astroturfing or is the community really so blind as to not realize this is yet another harmful case of software patent litigation? Who cares if it's Microsoft, it's a software patent, likely one with prior art, and frankly, sounds obvious to anyone who has worked with computers.

Re:Lifting code? Say what? (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | about 5 years ago | (#29157263)

You're confusing "software patent" and "patent troll" for some reason. They have a legitimate product, therefore they aren't patent trolling. Patent trolling is when you buy someone else's patent and then sue people doing actual work. They do have a software patent, and software patents are generally seen as harmful to society at large here on /. They are correctly playing the game against an opponent known for cheating, but the game itself is suspect.

Clearer?

Re:Lifting code? Say what? (1)

Anpheus (908711) | about 5 years ago | (#29161293)

They are a patent troll because:

(a.) It's obvious to an expert in the craft. People have been executing this patent's claims for years.
(b.) It's a software patent.
(c.) There is tremendous prior art.

Re:Lifting code? Say what? (1)

tsm_sf (545316) | about 5 years ago | (#29164099)

All of those things are problems with software patents, but the term "patent troll" refers to someone who only holds patents and does not create or manufacture anything with them.

Re:Lifting code? Say what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29179243)

Language is fluid, and by gum, I call them a patent troll.

If we disagree on anything then, it would be the term used, not the problems with their claim.

Ignore Anti MS Rhetoric (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154835)

If you ignore the anti microsoft rhetoric this is a good thing. XML patents should not be valid. There is no invention in XML. Software patents are stupid. Algorithm patents are what should be valid. Patenting a system for how to do things is valid. Patenting for how to express an existing system shold not be.

Re:Ignore Anti MS Rhetoric (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154839)

Software patents are the primary factor keeping me out of trying to make money for my software. Trolls have it so easy. So, I wish Microsoft the best of luck in this situation.

Re:Ignore Anti MS Rhetoric (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154869)

WHAT?! You big pussy!

Re:Ignore Anti MS Rhetoric (2, Insightful)

gabebear (251933) | about 5 years ago | (#29155101)

Personally I like it when the trolls try these huge cases rather than their normal piddly little extortions. Microsoft, IBM, and all the big software producers are still lobbying FOR stronger software patents in more countries. As said elsewhere here, you need to reform the patent system through legislation. Hopefully M$ and IBM get beaten up enough to finally realize that patents are doing them more harm than good and get their lobbying efforts on the right side.

Re:Ignore Anti MS Rhetoric (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29155145)

It will never happen, both of those companies have arsenals of patents at their disposal. They cross license them against potential opposition. Having a huge portfolio of patents means anyone suing them will undoubtedly infringe one of their own. You can bet your bottom dollar MS are trawling through their stack looking for something i4i have infringed. MS merely need to delay and delay some more, sooner or later they'll find what they want and force cross licensing or i4i having to face being sued themselves by a vastly more resource corporation. This is why software patents should not exist. Ultimately, a small number of players will control the world of them like oil, pharma, telcos etc.

Re:Ignore Anti MS Rhetoric (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#29168129)

Having a huge portfolio of patents means anyone suing them will undoubtedly infringe one of their own

No it doesn't. Lots of companies own patents but don't produce anything. It's becoming standard practice now to file a patent, sell it to a spin-off, and then license it back. The spin-off doesn't produce anything, so they can go after anyone they like and not worry that they might be infringing other patents. In this case, i4i actually does produce something, but they're becoming an exception.

Re:Ignore Anti MS Rhetoric (1)

IRWolfie- (1148617) | about 5 years ago | (#29234735)

This is not a case of a patent troll, read up.

Re:Ignore Anti MS Rhetoric (3, Funny)

bytesex (112972) | about 5 years ago | (#29154877)

...XML patents should not be valid. There is no invention in XML. Software patents are stupid....

Ha ! Wait until you see my implementation of EMACS using nothing but XSLT !

Re:Ignore Anti MS Rhetoric (5, Funny)

rdebath (884132) | about 5 years ago | (#29155203)

# apt-get pussy

E: Invalid operation pussy
# apt-get install pussy
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree
Reading state information... Done
Suggested packages:
tits
The following packages will be REMOVED
penis
The following NEW packages will be installed
pussy
0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 1 to remove and 2 not upgraded.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? ^C^C^C
#

Phew!

Re:Ignore Anti MS Rhetoric (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29156653)

I believe the package "tits" is a dependency which defaults to "tits-med". You can use "tits-sm" or "tits-lg" instead if you want.

Re:Ignore Anti MS Rhetoric (4, Informative)

hattig (47930) | about 5 years ago | (#29155165)

If you read the patent, you will realise that is isn't patenting XML.

It's "Patenting a system for how to do" a certain thing in XML (actually SGML, but there's no different. That's why Office violates, and OpenOffice doesn't violate. It's the custom XML feature in Office, which isn't actually XML.

Algorithm patents are stupid too (3, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 5 years ago | (#29155293)

Algorithm patents are just as bad as any other software patent. The constitution explicitly excludes scientific and mathematical discoveries from the patent system, and algorithms are mathematics, through and through. When you allow people to patent algorithms, you wind up with all kinds of messes, such as the mess we had with GIF images.

The problem with patents is that there are no provisions for cases where two people invent the same thing independently, which is a very common situation. If 10 inventors are all trying to solve the same problem, and all working independently, the patent system guarantees that the work of 9 of those inventors will be in vain. The constitution was written to mitigate this problem by excluding math and science; ultimately, software is a form of math, and should therefore be entirely excluded from the patent system on constitutional grounds.

Re:Algorithm patents are stupid too (2, Interesting)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 5 years ago | (#29156255)

The constitution explicitly excludes scientific and mathematical discoveries from the patent system, and algorithms are mathematics, through and through.

No, it doesn't. The words "scientific and mathematical discovers" are found nowhere in the Constitution. Maybe you're confused about what the word "explicitly" means.

The problem with patents is that there are no provisions for cases where two people invent the same thing independently, which is a very common situation.

Actually, there are many provisions, from rejections under 35 USC 102a, b, and g, and provisions for Interference actions, specifically dealing with cases where two people invent the same thing independently.

If 10 inventors are all trying to solve the same problem, and all working independently, the patent system guarantees that the work of 9 of those inventors will be in vain.

Yes... And how does that happen? Obviously, there must be provisions that make the work of 9 of those inventors in vain. So, your earlier statement about "no provisions" seems to be invalidated by this one.

So, correction for you: there are many provisions. You just don't like them.

The constitution was written to mitigate this problem by excluding math and science

Again, these words do not exist in the Constitution. Seriously, where did you get this idea?

ultimately, software is a form of math, and should therefore be entirely excluded from the patent system on constitutional grounds.

No, and no one is suggesting that. Not even the CAFC in Bilski. It's statutory grounds, not constitutional grounds. Until you recognize that difference, you really shouldn't be in this conversation.

Software is NOT a form of math (3, Interesting)

Petersko (564140) | about 5 years ago | (#29156787)

"ultimately, software is a form of math"

Software is just a step-by-step instruction list. It's is no more a form of math than is a cookbook. You could give instructions that make software "do" math, but that doesn't make it math any more than a student "is" math when using a calculator.

Re:Software is NOT a form of math (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | about 5 years ago | (#29159333)

that doesn't make it math any more than a student "is" math when using a calculator.

It's all maths. Physics, Language, Music, Philosophy, Reality, Dreams, Fantazy... It may not look like it at first sight, but in some sense everything that can be said to be can be described in terms of mathematics.

The implication is that patents is a poor way to try to stimulate consumption of goods and services with positive externalities.

Yes it is! And here's the proof! (1)

Xenographic (557057) | about 5 years ago | (#29159653)

> Software is just a step-by-step instruction list. It's is no more a form of math than is a cookbook.

You might want to look up Curry-Howard correspondence [haskell.org] someday.

Not only is software math, there's an equivalence theorem relating the two. If that were not the case, the people over at MetaMath [metamath.org] wouldn't be able to get very far.

In other words, that statement isn't just wrong, it's provably wrong and you'll have to prove the Curry-Howard correspondence wrong before you can claim otherwise. One of the weird properties of a correspondence is that you can turn software back into math.

I know that people think that math is all arithmetic and integrals or something, but that's just not true.

US gov't has unhealthy ties to softwar gangsters (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154885)

http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/08/22/veterans.affairs.bonuses/index.html

you can do better on that without any hoopla mr. obama?

handing US back to our captors will not help at all.

you already know that, so what's the problem, besides the manufactured 'weather', felonious 'bankers' still in charge of US, millions going hungry, big flu season on the way, tropical storms in maryland etc...? you know where we're heading, right?

even an apprentice spirit could see the connections? thank you for all your excellent/thankless work so far. continued God's speed to you sir.

Re:US gov't has unhealthy ties to softwar gangster (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29155411)

If you think tropical storms in maryland is something new, you're an idiot.

Live by the sword, die by the sword (2, Insightful)

axiom02139 (1228792) | about 5 years ago | (#29154911)

Live by the sword, die by the sword. M$ has been working towards world domination using patents and monopoly power. Google is usurping the monopoly position, and others are swarming like insects around a dying carcass with respect to software patents. What goes around, comes around.....

Amen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29155013)

Amen. So be it!

Seriously, though, if anyone deserved it, then them.

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 5 years ago | (#29155095)

That's like saying its okay to rob somebody, as long as its somebody you don't like. Software Patents are bullshit-simple as that. They are bullshit when they are used by the big boys like MSFT and IBM, and they are just as much bullshit when they are used by smaller companies like i4i. Saying its fine and dandy because its MSFT getting screwed this time is like saying "you really shouldn't mug anybody, unless its that guy down the street. he's an asshole."

The giant minefield that is the current USA copyrights and patents system is about as fucked up and as far removed from the Founding Fathers original purpose as one could possibly get. They were originally designed to allow the little guy to make enough off of his inventions that he could continue to invent and innovate without fear of being ripped off the second his first device rolled out the door. Now they are just a tax upon all of us with the proceeds going to the top. So I'm sorry, but saying ripping off someone by going to East Texas (Patent troll capital USA) where the juries are known for not having a clue and passing out crazy judgments is okay just because it is someone you hate doesn't make it right. It is that kind of attitude that has gotten this country in the mess we are in, with so many willing to vote for somebody that will screw them as long as they screw those the voter hates worse.

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword- is correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29155871)

While I agree almost entirely with your the start of you second paragraph

The giant minefield that is the current USA copyrights and patents system is about as fucked up and as far removed from the Founding Fathers original purpose as one could possibly get. They were originally designed to allow the little guy to make enough off of his inventions that he could continue to invent and innovate without fear of being ripped off the second his first device rolled out the door. Now they are just a tax upon all of us with the proceeds going to the top.

The rest of your comment is no where near as logical.

You might not like software patents but you should acknowledge that 1) Microsoft has used them to stifle competition and innovation ie they have lived by the sword. 2) A smaller company has now effectively used the same tactic against Microsoft ie die by the sword.

If Microsoft had at some point attempted to change the American patent system so that software patents were not legal or if once the patented their software they released the patent to the world royalty free in perpetuity as a protest of the American software patent system--- then they would not be living by the sword.

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword- is correct (2, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 5 years ago | (#29157017)

And again your post is "MSFT is an asshole, so it is good they got fucked" and my argument is no, it is NOT good they got fucked. You know why? because it is YOU that is getting fucked Chuck. Do you honestly think MSFT will just happily eat that judgment and not raise prices one single penny? Nope, they will pass that off on the millions of businesses that require custom apps that only run on Windows, who will then pass that cost onto you. Which is why I said it was a tax, since ultimately it comes out of YOUR pocket.

And as it stands now the little guy who invents something pretty much HAS to sell to a large corp, often for a very tiny percentage of what they could have got, if they even get a percent and don't have to just sell outright. Because the little guy can't afford the $10k+ to research for submarine patents, nor can he afford his own law firm on retainer to fight off patent trolls. Nowadays a case in East Texas for anyone less than IBM or MSFT equals dead company. It is JUST that simple.

So i would argue that no matter how big an asshole you think MSFT is supporting a crooked system with crooked verdicts (which is of course why anyone files in East Texas in the first place) is just as fucked up, no matter who the victim is. Just because you are enjoying some Schadenfreude [wikipedia.org] out of it doesn't make it just as fucked up as if someone who made a little FLOSS app was the one getting the reaming. I would also argue it is that SAME attitude that have kept third parties out of the USA political system, because folks are willing to vote for the Dems even when they are crooks because they promise to "fuck the rich" while they'll vote for the Repubs who are crooks because they promise to "fuck those lazy poor and immigrants". It still don't make it any less than 100% fucked up, no matter how you slice it.

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword- is correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29164109)

Did you miss the fact that I agreed with your diatribe against software patents? If you're trying to convince me of that software patents are not beneficial well I don't need convincing from you I'm already aware that they aren't. I'm aware that the system is fucked up.

But if the big players won't demand the system changes to the benefit of all of us then the little players should be allowed to play using the same broken rules that the big players use.

I don't like it but if it's that's they only way the game is played successfully then the little players have to follow the rules ... even when the rules themselves are broken.

Oh and I don't think "Microsfot is an Asshole, so I'm glad they got fucked" I'm not axiom021329 I just don't think it's valid to valid to argue against "live by the sward die by the sword" in this particular discussion.

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword- is correct (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 5 years ago | (#29165133)

And because David managed to get a hit on Goliath its good, yes? The problem with "I don't like it but if it's that's they only way the game is played successfully then the little players have to follow the rules ... even when the rules themselves are broken." is that a huge multinational like MSFT can just consider the verdict the cost of doing business, raise their prices by a buck a piece and end up ahead, while the little guy gets ran over like a Mac truck.

Guys like MSFT, IBM, Apple, HP, etc will NEVER push to change the rules, not now and not ever. They simply benefit too much from the status quo. Just as MSFT had the big brass balls to demnd more H1-Bs when the economy is in a tailspin so will these companies just keep on using patents and copyrights like the bat in "The Untouchables" to take care of the competition.

So while I am glad that you and I agree that the system is totally fucked up, unlike so many here that were simply "Yay, fuck MSFT!" what I am arguing is trying to work within the system is pointless. The ONLY way things will get better is if groups like the EFF and FSF and any other group that agrees patents shouldn't be weapons of business destruction throw their money togather and bribe...errr I mean lobby for changes. Because as it is now no matter how hard you fight in the end the big guy will ALWAYS win. Companies like MSFT will win because they can keep you tied up in court for decades burning through your cash, and have patent warchests just filled with bats to use against you. Having these patents hanging like The Sword of Damocles over the head of every little developer and FLOSS app is simply unacceptable, and I hope that more will see that East Texas (troll capital USA) is just a sign of a much bigger problem and will ban together to fight it.

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword- is correct (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29165641)

You are assuming that I think it's good. I don't.

Once again the game has broken rules and if the only way to play the game successfully is to play by the broken rules while attempting to fix the broken rules .... then playing the game while demanding the changes to the rules is not pointless.

Keep advocating for the changes and keep showing why and how the current system is broken and maybe one day we will convince enough people that the changes will come about.

Re:Live by the sword, die by the sword- is correct (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#29168151)

Do you honestly think MSFT will just happily eat that judgment and not raise prices one single penny?

I'm still not seeing how this is bad for me. Either they lobby against software patents, or they put their prices up and push more people away from their products. Both of these options sound good to me.

never a better time to consult with the penguins (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29154953)

mr. obama, you should invite/call in, mr. torvalds, mr. gnu, & a few others of their mindset, to assist you in locking down some systems, & providing framework/applications to fit the times, which are tenuous. thanks again.

i4i (1, Funny)

Atmchicago (555403) | about 5 years ago | (#29155005)

Sounds like i4i went for the "tooth for a tooth" strategy. Microsoft should have been suspicious all along :-)

what's up with the PostBlocker robbIE? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29155055)

nothing gnu about that? who decides which posts disappear? that would be a more challenging/daunting task then simply assigning the; mynutswon 'score'?

The only possible good thing .... (2, Interesting)

pseudonomous (1389971) | about 5 years ago | (#29155675)

The only possible good thing that can come from this suit will be if i4i wins, and Microsoft has to stop selling word for some period of time (I assume they'll release a non-infringing version ASAP) and then 'normal' people will actually realize that software patents are stupid, massively inconveniant, and stiffling innovation in software. Understand that this goes beyond the normal shadenfreude I have for whenever bad stuff happens to Microsoft, the patents invollved in this case are ridiculous, but are perfectly inline with other software patents granted to Apple, Microsoft, IBM, etc. The whole patent system needs massive reform, and pressure for that has to come from the general public, the software giants, (Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Oracle, etc.) have way too much invested in the current system to ever challenge it; even when they're found guilty of infringement in one of thier flagship products.

Re:The only possible good thing .... (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | about 5 years ago | (#29157323)

Well, Microsoft has apparently threatened to stop selling Microsoft Office entirely [dailytech.com] , if the patent is allowed to stand.

That'd be an interesting gambit.

"We broke the rules, didn't adhere to the law, we're too big to fail so now the government has to step in and allow us to break the rules anyway. You know - like all the banks."

Re:The only possible good thing .... (1)

IRWolfie- (1148617) | about 5 years ago | (#29234777)

They won't stop, there's too much competition that can step in.

Expedited Appeal (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 5 years ago | (#29156993)

Everything coming out of East Texas should be granted an expedited appeal.

If there was ever a reason to allow Texas to leave the union it is because of the far out of the norm patent case decisions coming out of that East Texas district court.
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