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Court Allows Microsoft To Sell Word During Appeal

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the back-in-the-saddle dept.

Microsoft 106

An anonymous reader sends along this update to the ongoing patent battle between Microsoft and i4i involving XML formatting in Word. "Microsoft's motion to stay an injunction has been granted; the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has allowed the company to keep selling Word as it appeals a patent ruling from last month. The injunction had an effective date of October 10, but the motion to stay blocks the injunction until the appeal process is complete. If upheld, the injunction wouldn't stop existing users from using Word, but it could prevent the software giant from selling Word 2003 or Word 2007, the most common versions of Word currently on the market, and would require the company to significantly tweak Word 2010, which is slated for the first half of next year. The victory is a small one for Microsoft; the company still has the whole appeals process to go through. 'We are happy with the result and look forward to presenting our arguments on the main issues on September 23,' a Microsoft spokesperson told Ars. 'Microsoft's scare tactics about the consequences of the injunction cannot shield it from the imminent review of the case by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal on the September 23 appeal,' said i4i chairman Loudon Owen in response to the court's decision."

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Surprise (3, Funny)

siloko (1133863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29321877)

Er now there's a surprise . . .

Re:Surprise (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29321951)

Niggerbucket.

Re:Surprise (5, Funny)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322101)

We at Microsoft are doing nothing wrong, I give you my Word... bundled with Excel, Powerpoint........

Re:Surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29322699)

I asked for a cheaper alternative to word. They gave me the works.

Re:Surprise (1)

drseuk (824707) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322929)

If the Judge had to call Microsoft Support for help typing up the injunction-undoing document does this mean that Schroedinger's cat is alive?

Re:Surprise (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323297)

It means Schrödinger's cat is stuck up a tree.

Sauce for the goose. (5, Interesting)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 4 years ago | (#29321889)

If they had concentrated on reforming the patent system, instead of just bolstering their patent portfolio, they could have prevented this. But instead, they prize their own ability to do this to the little guy too highly.

They are reaping what they sowed. It doesn't make the patent troll any less despicable though.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (4, Insightful)

siloko (1133863) | more than 4 years ago | (#29321927)

Well this story at least is about them getting a stay of execution, so they are indeed reaping what they sow (political/judicial power due to massive economic influence) but not in the way you suggest. Perhaps they will lose this case and have to pony up some dollar but if anyone thinks the sale of Word is going to be impeded for even a day then they are naive in the extreme.

A fine won't change things (4, Insightful)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322267)

    They've ponyed up well over a billion dollars in the last five years alone. Another fine won't change anything.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1)

rubi (910818) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323119)

/deleted/ Perhaps they will lose this case and have to pony up some dollar but if anyone thinks the sale of Word is going to be impeded for even a day then they are naive in the extreme.

True, all they are fighting about is not paying up unless they have to.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29322093)

Ugh. If this was Google defending their patent portfolio (like the idiotic patent they just took out on their homepage) I bet we'd have all the corporate flavour of the week groupies heralding their courageousness in fighting patent trolls. But because it's Microsoft, we have idiots like parent poster saying they should abandon the lawsuit and instead seek to reform the patent system.

When are people going to grow up and look at the world with at least at attempt at objectivity?

Re:Sauce for the goose. (2, Insightful)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322139)

Ugh. If this was Google defending their patent portfolio

Microsoft isn't "defending its patent portfolio." It's being sued for infringement by a competitor, and even that competitor isn't "defending its own patent portfolio", it's suing to protect its business, using its patent portfolio (which might be just this one patent, for all we know).

I appreciate a preemptive "You're all Google fanbois, if it was Microsoft, blah blah" rant for it's humor value, but at least take your trolling seriously.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (2, Insightful)

SL Baur (19540) | more than 4 years ago | (#29324467)

it's suing to protect its business

Correct. It's not a patent troll. It's a company with working product who attempted a partnership, got rebuffed by Microsoft after they jumped through hoops and Microsoft went ahead and used their technology anyway.

It's typical Microsoft. If they can hold off payment of the lawsuit long enough, they get the IP they stole for free.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29330937)

Correct. It's not a patent troll. It's a company with working product who attempted a partnership, got rebuffed by Microsoft after they jumped through hoops and Microsoft went ahead and used their technology anyway.

AFAICT Microsoft looked at their technology and decided that it shouldn't be covered by a patent (it should be impossible to get a patent on implementing an Open specification, after all; that's pretty much the peak of obviousness) and went ahead and reimplemented it. If they actually stole it then this would be a copyright suit. And even that's not theft, but in this case, we could allow the use of the term because they're selling it, and thus perhaps actually depriving someone of a sale.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29322163)

On slashdot, probably never. They won't stop MS bashing until both it and Bill Gates are dead. Then they'll bash whatever company took the top slot on the techie pain chain. Hey, if history had been a little different, it would have been Apple and Stevie getting the grease job...

There are people that will complain about anything, without regards to accuracy or fairness. I'm all for pointing out problems, but I don't know enough of this exact situation to decide at this point. Other than my basic feeling that Software Patents are B.S. is a big way, copyright is more than sufficient for software.

But even with the previous stated limits of knowledge, if MS knowing violated the i4i patent, they deserve to get burned. On the other hand, the descriptions I've been seeing of i4is patent sound extremely likely to be a garbage patent that should never have been granted. (I admit I haven't read the actual patent for two reasons, one, I'm not a patent lawyer and probably get confused with the lawspeak, and two, I haven't found it yet to read...) (slashdot effect still works, just like gravity...)

Yeah, to reiterate. This is slashdot, they want microsoft to be their bitch...

Re:Sauce for the goose. (5, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322227)

"On slashdot, probably never. They won't stop MS bashing until both it and Bill Gates are dead. Then they'll bash whatever company took the top slot on the techie pain chain. Hey, if history had been a little different, it would have been Apple and Stevie getting the grease job..."

It's amazing how many morons are willing to defend a company that based it's growth on dishonesty. "If history had been a little different" my ass. N. Korea's Kim il Jung is despised because he's a ruthless bastard. Bill Gates is despised because he's a ruthless bastard. How could history have been a little different?

Get over yourself.

Maybe your next astroturfing job will be in a nice big football stadium somewhere, and people will actually appreciate your work.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322673)

"On slashdot, probably never. They won't stop MS bashing until both it and Bill Gates are dead.

Now that's just a lie. I'll settle for Ballmer instead of gates!

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1)

drseuk (824707) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323063)

Are there any front-row seats left?

Re:Sauce for the goose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29324287)

Seriously dude, you need a little more imagination if you can't see how history could have been a little different.

Also, although you didn't mention Nazis or Hitler, frankly, this breaks the spirit of Godwin's law, if not the letter. Kim Jong-Il is so utterly irrelevant to any discussion of tech industry ethics that it could only have been inserted to cast aspersions on the moral character of your opponents in debate.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (5, Informative)

botik32 (90185) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322703)

Way to paint Microsoft as the victim here.

According to GrokLaw, this is what happened:

Whether or not the patent should have been granted is not the issue at this point. It was.
The plaintiff (i4i) had a successful add-on for MS Word that it was selling. In 2003, Microsoft added the same functionality to Word. Microsoft then refused all attempts on i4i's part to license the functionality.
The license fees requested were on the order of $25M. It was Microsoft's repeated refusal to negotiate that resulted in not only a large award, but punitive damages as well.
They (Microsoft) were found liable for willful infringement, so yes, they did steal the patented method.

The weird thing here is that this is actually a case of a patent working the way that patents are supposed to work:

Company A comes up with a reasonably unique and functional solution to a broad problem, patents it and starts selling it. They take it to mega-corp B who has a problem that can be easily solved with company A's product, and mega-corp B -- rather than negotiate with company A, simply steals their design, and incorporates it into their product in the expectation that this will be sufficient to run company A into the ground before any litigation can come to fruition.

The thing to note here, is that I4I's patent isn't just for an idea, it's actually for a real product and an apparently graceful solution to what had previously been an intractible problem.

The XML implementation is simply a specific implementation of their patent, but -- once you have XML -- it's not the only XML solution or even (for many people) the best XML solution.

It is starting to look like they didn't patent the general idea of adding meta-data to a file. They patented a specific way of organizing that meta-data to produce a specific result.

In the broader context of software patents being a bad idea, I would be inclined to classify this as an example of 'good case, bad law'. It is somewhat gratifying to see software patents put to a good use, for once.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1)

etu (300362) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323225)

I agree that in this case patents are working as they are supposed to. I have read the patent and it is as good as software patent can be. I had never thought separating XML tags from the text.

Could it be that Microsoft announced it's very weak XML patent just before this case to get people confused. "Microsoft XML patent case" may mean both the very weak XML patent by Microsoft or the strong XML patent against Microsoft.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (2, Informative)

drseuk (824707) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323303)

I read the other patent awarded to MSFT you refer to (after downloading a TIFF-plugin to see the diagrams as hosted on the USPTO web-site) and, although IANAL, I can't for the life of me see what is non-obvious.

The whole point of XML and ancestors / friends (e.g., SGML, HTML) is that the tags add semantics to documents by virtue of their being included with the content. Separating the tags defeats the entire object of XML etc.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29323239)

I wouldn't take any Groklaw information at face value since they harbor a fanatical hatred for Microsoft which makes them less than objective. Lets see what the courts say. Naturally if the courts exonerate Microsoft Slashdot will be inundated with rantings about the bias and corruption of the legal system.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323495)

I haven't heard that Groklaw distorts information. Since PJ prints so many original documents, it's hard to see how she could.

You may not agree with PJ's opinions, but her reporting is probably pretty straight.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323593)

The weird thing here is that this is actually a case of a patent working the way that patents are supposed to work:

I thought patents were supposed to protect implementations, not ideas ? How is Microsoft developing their own implementation of the same idea an example of "a patent working the way that patents are supposed to work" ?

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323787)

Patents are application of ideas (just like pharma patent for viagra: idea=boner, implementation=specific chemical compound). Copyrights protect implementation only.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (3, Insightful)

david_thornley (598059) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323487)

On slashdot, probably never. They won't stop MS bashing until both it and Bill Gates are dead.

Nah. Only until Microsoft no longer has a functional monopoly, and isn't seen as a danger. Look what happened to IBM. Let Microsoft drop to that level of influence (and IBM is still a very large company) and we'll mostly drop the bashing.

Then they'll bash whatever company took the top slot on the techie pain chain.

Almost certainly true, although it doesn't reflect badly on the community.

Techies respect technical excellence, and dislike marketers, with good reason. There are plenty of companies that behave themselves ethically and sell technical excellence. However, that's not how companies get to the top.

IBM was not as unscrupulous as Microsoft, but it was ruthless. Standard policy was to sell to levels above the techies, and so the techies had IBM equipment forced on them, whether or not it was the right stuff for the job. While IBM was into research and technology, that wasn't the primary drive. It was sales and marketing.

Any company that comes to be the next IBM or Microsoft will do so by ruthless marketing, and techies will be forced to cope. If that company becomes an effective monopoly (as IBM was and Microsoft is), it will distort the techie world, and impede innovation and technical advancement, and other things techies value.

So, the good news for Microsoft, insofar as Microsoft cares about us, is that if Microsoft market share drops to maybe 50% or so, so that competing OSs are viable options in most circumstances, and so that Microsoft needs to take interoperability seriously, we'll stop bashing Microsoft.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29326467)

Yeah, to reiterate. This is slashdot, they want microsoft to be their bitch...

For good reason. We (the consumer) have been their bitch for the last 10+ years. If it wasn't for them it might be an interesting multi operating system environment (not like we have now where it is Microsoft and some other insignificant ones). They are a convicted monopolist for christ's sake.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (5, Insightful)

andydread (758754) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322427)

Ugh. If this was Google defending their patent portfolio (like the idiotic patent they just took out on their homepage) I bet we'd have all the corporate flavour of the week groupies heralding their courageousness in fighting patent trolls. But because it's Microsoft, we have idiots like parent poster saying they should abandon the lawsuit and instead seek to reform the patent system.

When are people going to grow up and look at the world with at least at attempt at objectivity?

Hey, goon. Where have you been all these years when Microsoft have been abusing its customers, Its competitors, and the marketplace? Microsoft accuses competitors of violating its crappy patents. And refuses to identify said patents to the people they are accusing of stealing the so called "intellectual Property" Instead it is running an extortion/protection racket going around to companies behind the scenes telling them to pay Microsoft for LINUX CODE. People had busted their ass to create GNU/LInux based operating systems and MS thinks its ok to go EXTORT companies for code they have nothing to do with. They LIE in the marketplace about competitors products. They funneled money to SCO to keep their lawsuit going against Linux. They commissioned false studies claiming their product is superior. They are LIARS and totaly untrustworthy. They have BRIBED officials in international standards bodies along with egregiously stacking voting panels in their favor. They are slimy mobsters.

So you see goon? They reaped what they sew. And no one but goons like you are sympathetic to them because they are slime.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (0, Troll)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322835)

Evidence?

Err, sorry, I mean, do you have any EVIDENCE for any of that?

Why is it OK to be against software patents on one day, except when it's someone you despise on the wrong end of a lawsuit? What makes this patent holier than all the rest, and why do you think OpenOffice and other programs would remain safe? i4i's promise not to sue Sun later on is not binding, and there are only half a million projects out there that use XML and support custom schemas. Fuck, Word is just the tip of the iceberg here. Microsoft's successor to the GDI framework, WPF, uses XML and supports custom schemas defined by the user (or in this case, developer.) I can add a element for example, with custom binding, properties, etc. Is that infringing?

Help me make sense of this. Where does this insanity end?

Re:Sauce for the goose. (2, Informative)

andydread (758754) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323349)

Microsoft stacking voting panels? [betanews.com] And They are also running Linux patent extortion racket. [zdnet.com] while misrepresenting (lying) reports about linux violating patents. [eweek.com] and they fuel fraudulent lawsuits against Linux. Behind the scenes [eweek.com]

This is only a fraction of their egregious behavior. I am sure you know how to use Google. Try it some time. You will find a lot more eye opening info on the ruthless, vicious, unethical mobsters that are Microsoft executives.

I used to defend them back when I was young and ignorant to their marketplace behavior. I have learned a lot over the years. These people are slime.

As far as i4i goes. I think all sofware patents are bad. What makes software so special that it needs the protections of copyright and the patent system? Should music be patented too? How about story concepts in books? The i4i patent on using a standard is ridiculous. Even though they have an actual product based on this patent. I hope i4i loses this suit because they are patenting sofware and methods of using a standard. It still does not take away from the fact that Microsoft reaps what they sow.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (0, Troll)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323735)

Corporations tend to do slimy things for the sake of profit, but a lot of these allegations are tenuous at best. Hey, I'd love to see proof OOXML was bribed into being a standard, to see its ISO certification disappear. It is a nasty, long, dense standard that doesn't help anyone but them. It'd be great if instead they contributed vital enhancements to ODF.

On the other hand, they're on the receiving end of a truly absurd amount of FUD at Slashdot.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29324603)

I'd love to see proof OOXML was bribed into being a standard

There were plenty of articles posted here at the time this going on. Just because you ignored it doesn't mean the rest of us did too.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29333321)

I cannot let your accusation of bribery stand. I am no fan of Microsoft but there were no bribes involved. It is my job to track these kind of issues and the standards process for OOXML had been going on for years.
Please TRY and stick to the facts and do a bit of research before opening or provide PROOF. Every company tries to protect its interests by having as many allies as possible be part of the standards committees. I highly recommend you become involved with a standards group as see how the system really works.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322957)

When are people going to grow up and look at the world with at least at attempt at objectivity?

Within mere moments of pausing to RTFA.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (2, Insightful)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29324065)

If this was Google defending their patent portfolio (like the idiotic patent they just took out on their homepage) I bet we'd have all the corporate flavour of the week groupies heralding their courageousness in fighting patent trolls. But because it's Microsoft, we have idiots like parent poster saying they should abandon the lawsuit and instead seek to reform the patent system.

Google's "patent" is just a design patent, which is massively different from what most people think of as a patent. It is only the fact that Slashdot editors are incompetent that it got here.

Second, the i4i suit does not involve any patent trolls.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (5, Informative)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322127)

They are reaping what they sowed. It doesn't make the patent troll any less despicable though.

How many times does this need to be pointed out? i4i is not a patent troll. That doesn't mean they're cute and cuddly panda bears, but they aren't a patent troll, which is defined as suing over patents without having an actual product (or in other words, suing over patents is a patent troll's business model, not building things). i4i does have an actual product, and they claim that Microsoft is competing against their product; after convincing a judge of that, they got the injunction.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (5, Informative)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322183)

i4i does have an actual product, and they claim that Microsoft is competing against their product; after convincing a judge of that, they got the injunction.

I thought the case revolved around Microsoft stealing their product, not competing against it. That Microsoft took their product and bundled their own rather-similar-indeed implementation directly into Word, and that the patent is the only thing i4i has that they can sue MS over. But yes, to re-iterate i4i is not, in any shape or form, a patent troll and this is one case where the patent system is actually working as intended!

Microsoft was very naughty and deserves to sit on the 'do not collect $200 per copy' step.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (3, Interesting)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322469)

No, it was always just a plain patent infringement case [swpat.org] about using XML for the reason that the mark up language was created. The sad part is that i4i created a product that uses Word for all of its user interface. That means they are using way more of Microsoft's code in their own product than Microsoft could have ever "stolen" from them.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323359)

I think you'll find, if you read more than some trolling blog posts, that Microsoft intends for you to add stuff to Office documents, and also has a whole Office developer section for people to "use way more of their code", its perfectly ok if its offered to you as a feature of the product they want you to use.

Anyway, i4i had a separate product that, in this case, was taken by MS and included into Word documents. This article gives a better description of why everyone thinks MS is the thief. [seattlepi.com]

Re:Sauce for the goose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29328643)

But everyone doesn't. Not even close.

Just the fact that this case is in East Texas tells me to distrust any conclusions made by the court.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (2, Insightful)

whatajoke (1625715) | more than 4 years ago | (#29325979)

No, it was always just a plain patent infringement case [swpat.org] about using XML for the reason that the mark up language was created. The sad part is that i4i created a product that uses Word for all of its user interface. That means they are using way more of Microsoft's code in their own product than Microsoft could have ever "stolen" from them.

How is writing a plugin for Word make i4i using "Microsoft code in their own product" ? If Microsoft is not OK with the plugin they could have removed the plugin functionality form Word instead of really stealing from i4i.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29322193)

Not only did i4i *have* a product - Microsoft paid them a visit expressing interest in said product, then went and implemented comparable functions in MS Word - effectively killing the potential market for i4i's product.

The Globe and Mail [theglobeandmail.com] has an article with more details.

This isn't a patent-troll case.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322585)

AND Microsoft has an email trail, apparently, where they essentially said, "Eh" when the subject of infringement was brought up. Microsoft is inherently evil. Just like kicking puppies.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (0, Troll)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322855)

So? Almost all software patents have implementations. That doesn't make them legit.

I don't get why Slashdot screams bloody murder when software patents are brought up in conversation about open source products, but when Microsoft or one of the "bad guys" is on the receiving end of a lawsuit it's A-OK with you guys.

You are the cancer that is killing /., is what I'm trying to say. They aren't a patent troll? Come on, grow up. You can be a patent troll with a product, just like all those other software patent trolls that have a product, or have licensed it at some point, or whatever. If having patents and a product means you're not a patent troll, then I guess that mean's Google's patent on their home page is legit? Or IBM's patent for a business process to produce patents, or whatever it was? Because they use both of those, obviously, so that means if they sue someone for it, they're clearly not trolls?

That's what your logic works out to. How about we adjust your definition of patent troll so you can stop apologizing for i4i. New definition of patent troll: a company or individual who uses patents that are not legitimate non-obvious, novel inventions in order to acquire money by suing whomever looks like a good target, usually in an East Texas court room.

Does that sound like i4i to you?

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322899)

My only point was that they didn't meet the technical definition of a patent troll. I didn't say they were 'nice', in fact I clearly stated otherwise ('not panda bears').

But, you seem to be having fun demolishing a strawman, so why should I stop you :)

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1)

Anpheus (908711) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323207)

They -are- a patent troll. Just like any other company that sues for obvious, trivial software patents and non-inventions. They're all seeking to make money by extortion or lawsuit for something that really isn't patent-worthy, hence: patent troll.

At times, even Microsoft has been a patent troll, so have many other companies. Stop treating everyone differently with these trivial patents, rather than playing favorites just because a company you don't like is involved.

Microsoft IS for patent reform (2, Informative)

H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322215)

Microsoft [swpat.org] does support reform. "Reform" means [swpat.org] making litigation harder for certain types of companies (small companies and companies that don't have a successful product based on the patents), reducing the time for granting patents, and reducing the amount that an infringer can have to pay (by dropping the incentives for litigation, patent trolls [swpat.org] should be less common).

All these measures are good for Microsoft and other dominant players who want to use their portfolio strategically to entrench their positions, but these aren't enough to fix society's problems. We need to abolition of software patents, not any kind of reform.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322385)

The question is how do they go about removing the idiocy that is software and business method patents? This is a nasty quirk of government.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (2, Interesting)

janwedekind (778872) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322553)

Microsoft could just argue that according to the Bilski ruling [groklaw.net] a process which is not tied to any particular apparatus is not patentable. But obviously they have their own stakes in software patents. I wonder how many more i4is (eye for an eye?) the economy can take.

Re:Sauce for the goose. (2, Informative)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323993)

If they had concentrated on reforming the patent system, instead of just bolstering their patent portfolio, they could have prevented this. But instead, they prize their own ability to do this to the little guy too highly.

Over its lifetime, Microsoft has filed something like two patent lawsuits involving software patents, not against little guys. I don't recall the details of one, but the other was in a case where the other side was threatening Microsoft over patents, negotiations failed, and both sides filed suit.

During that same time, they've been on the receiving end of patent lawsuits, often from the little guys, numerous times.

The fact is that they have pushed for patent reform to make it harder to get software patents. You make it sound like Microsoft is so powerful that they could cause reform single-handedly, if they just asked for it. Other companies, such as patent giant IBM, have some influence too.

Seems appropriate (5, Interesting)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 4 years ago | (#29321893)

If i4i wins the appeal, the court can make Microsoft pay for the unlicensed use of the patent. This way the patent still does what patents are supposed to do in most general terms: reward the inventor for sharing his inventor with the public. If Microsoft wins, i4i might not be able to reimburse them for lost sales.

This said, I think software patents are counterproductive and should be abolished. And maybe patents in general. For an interesting e-book on this topic, see http://www.dklevine.com/general/intellectual/against.htm [dklevine.com]

But it still would be fun to see Microsoft's cash cow whacked with the patent hammer. Especially after their petty lawsuit against TomTom.

Re:Seems appropriate (-1, Troll)

tyrione (134248) | more than 4 years ago | (#29321903)

If i4i wins the appeal, the court can make Microsoft pay for the unlicensed use of the patent. This way the patent still does what patents are supposed to do in most general terms: reward the inventor for sharing his inventor with the public. If Microsoft wins, i4i might not be able to reimburse them for lost sales.

This said, I think software patents are counterproductive and should be abolished. And maybe patents in general. For an interesting e-book on this topic, see http://www.dklevine.com/general/intellectual/against.htm [dklevine.com]

But it still would be fun to see Microsoft's cash cow whacked with the patent hammer. Especially after their petty lawsuit against TomTom.

Get real.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

Nathrael (1251426) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322347)

I don't think software patents are overally bad - they are just bad as they are now. Patents are important. If I write software, I want to be able to sell it and to get paid for it, and that's just fair. On the other hand however, the patent system is horribly abused, especially since patents last half an eternity plus forever. I think the ideal solution would be to set patents for software at around 10 years...maybe even 5. This way, companies and developers would still get paid for their stuff, but they couldn't abuse their patents to create monopolies either.

Re:Seems appropriate (2, Interesting)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322377)

If I write a book, I want to be able to sell it and get paid for it. I cannot patent the contents of a book. What makes software any different?

Re:Seems appropriate (3, Insightful)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323435)

"If I write a book, I want to be able to sell it and get paid for it. I cannot patent the contents of a book. What makes software any different?"

I'm sorry for the late response. I spent the first half hour trying to post from my copy of 1984, but eventually concluded that there is in fact a difference, and went back to the approach of using software rather than books ;-)

Re:Seems appropriate (2, Insightful)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322475)

But did patents ever work as expected?

According to chapter 1 of "Against Intellectual Monopoly" (see my first post), the patents of Boulton and Watt impeded the development of the steam engine rather than promoting it. That was 200+ years ago. Today we still have similar problems. That is reason enough to doubt the usefulness of patents in general.

Re:Seems appropriate (2, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322483)

reward the inventor for sharing his inventor with the public

That's some orgy porn I don't particularly want to see.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322567)

But in the interim, microsoft makes bucketloads of cash from selling their infringing product, and since they're not being hurt in any way from that infringement, they can drag out the court case for many years and there's no rush to fix it via patch. Meanwhile, i4i loses their business to microsoft's infringing product, and potentially runs out of money before the patent case is ever resolved, and may eventually end up as just a patent shell company.

Justice delayed is justice denied. An injunction against microsoft selling new copies of their infringing product will make them very quickly remove the infringing code so they can get it back on the shelves minus that feature, and get cracking on resolving the case speedily. Microsoft can much more easily afford to drag this out than i4i can, and an injuction will prevent the usual microsoft foot-dragging.

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322735)

Meanwhile, i4i loses their business to microsoft's infringing product, and potentially runs out of money

You have a point about the risk of bankruptcy. Otherwise, I disagree:
Until a final verdict is reached, the court should avoid doing something irreversible. Like crashing the market for MS Office. On the other hand, money can be redistributed later if necessary. As in "Microsoft, you have infringed the patent. Pay $20 for each copy of Word since 2009".

Re:Seems appropriate (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322979)

Except that it doesn't destroy the market for Microsoft Office - all Microsoft had to do to comply with the injunction was release a version without the patent-infringing feature. Since only a small percentage of Office users actually make use of said feature, it won't even affect most of their users.

no one wins when patent trolls do. (-1, Redundant)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29321909)

as much as MS is a troll themselfs, they have really suffered from all these nonsense software lawsuits. i hope these trolls don't win a penny and that the fright prompts MS to get behind patent reform.

Re:no one wins when patent trolls do. (1, Insightful)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#29321977)

Except that this case isn't from a patent troll. These guys did the development, sell a product and tried to sell it to MS, who turned around and built their own. This is the kind of case the patent system should be handling.

Actually, if I4I had been smart, they'd have sold out to a patent troll, took the money and run.

Re:no one wins when patent trolls do. (2, Informative)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322021)

Prior art up the wazoo means they are still a patent troll.

Re:no one wins when patent trolls do. (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322049)

Have you actually read the patent? Care to suggest any suitable prior art?

Re:no one wins when patent trolls do. (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322083)

Microsoft's court papers cite a number of SGML editors that implement more or less the same features, in various combinations; anything that i4i implements that wasn't already in them is a pretty obvious extension or adaptation. The court didn't find that argument persuasive, because the non-obviousness bar for software patents is so ludicrously low that "clicking once" is a valid patent.

Re:no one wins when patent trolls do. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29322173)

When posting to a thread about a legal concept, remember to sign your posts with IANAL kids. Please.

(i'm not a laywer)

I hope M$gets fucked up, they had it coming for a long time.

Re:no one wins when patent trolls do. WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29322811)

And the combination of these prior art parts into a new whole can still be considered a patentable invention if it meets certain standards.

Have you and everyone else here missed the point that dependent patent inventions exist?

An improvement on a collection of previous efforts that is good enough to meet the patentable standards is a patentable invention. You can patent a better mousetrap even when the mousetrap plans are in the public domain. I4I convinced the patent office that their combination of prior art ideas also had a enough of new and non-obvious concepts to be granted a patent on their work. They designed and built a better mousetrap.

Re:no one wins when patent trolls do. (3, Interesting)

makomk (752139) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322961)

Except that the SGML editors don't, as far as I can tell. Certainly, the one I looked at that Microsoft cited in fact turned out to be nothing like the patent.

Re:no one wins when patent trolls do. (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322237)

Allow me to paraphrase.

"Patent trolls suck, but I want my favorite patent troll to win!"

FFS, unless MS actually loses money, they won't "get behind patent reform" because their strategy will have been successful. If your logic is logic at all, then you WANT MS to lose a billion fucking dollars. THEN MS will actively lobby for patent reform.

Re:no one wins when patent trolls do. (1)

Jaime2 (824950) | more than 4 years ago | (#29324067)

Microsoft has already lost over a billion dollars from their previous patent lawsuits. It doesn't seem to have prompted them to support patent reform yet. I would guess they would need to be hit for at least 20 billion to change their minds.

Re:no one wins when patent trolls do. (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29324371)

You may be right - we are speculating, of course. But, every loss for MS focuses a little more attention an the problem. Of course, the attention that is really required is the attention of investors. They have been reaping a lot of profit over the years. When that profit begins to slow down, they will sit up and take notice. When they take notice, they talk to the people who actually run the company, etc etc.....

1 billion, 5 billion, or 20 billion, whatever it takes, I want to see it happen!

In capitalist america, (3, Interesting)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#29321997)

money buys justice [nytimes.com] . But this is the age of the internet, where information is everywhere and nobody reads anything. So "word" is obsolete. All we need is YouTube!

Chill Out (0)

drewco (1631735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322043)

Yeah, we all hate MS, but they are well within their right to sell their software. If it was your business you would consider it a victory. Get over it.

Re:Chill Out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29322071)

They had the right to sell their software. Then they didn't have the right to sell their software. Now they have the right to sell their software, unless or should I say until.

Courts the name, patents the game. And it's a game M$ loves. Glad to see them at the nasty end of it for a change.

Re:Chill Out (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29322605)

If MS was my business, it wouldn't have been out stealing i4i's IP and then directly going after their customer base.

I4i has just as much of a right to sell it's software as MS does. MS interfered with I4i's ability to sell their product, now they need just shut up and take their medicine.

I get so sick of people defending the indefensible, of people following MS's lead and supporting corrupt business practices.

Small victory?!? (1, Insightful)

Reaper9889 (602058) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322069)

I am pretty sure Microsoft is more than capable of making this lawsuit last as long as they want to. Until, e.g. they do not use the tech anymore...

what a relief .. (5, Funny)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322085)

The entire planetary commercial ecosystem would grind to a halt without Microsoft Office ...
--

Ubersoft Marketing Language [ubersoft.net]

Re:what a relief .. (5, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322189)

Yeah, it's terrible.

What we need is some kind of "open" office suite of tools, to replace Microsoft Office.

Someone should start a project.

Re:what a relief .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29322367)

I think I found a project we can fork!

Re:what a relief .. (1)

HyperQuantum (1032422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322219)

Nah. Not everyone depends on Office 2007, you know.

Lots of people still use 2003.
OpenOffice? What's that? ;)

Re:what a relief .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29322285)

"could prevent the software giant from selling Word 2003 or Word 2007"

Re:what a relief .. (1)

Rick17JJ (744063) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322325)

Yes, how could the entire planetary commercial ecosystem possibly get by without Word? I do not know. But, personally, I have these excellent free alternatives installed on my Windows XP computer:

OpenOffice
IBM Lotus Symphony (a free office suite which also includes a word processor)
Abiword

If I wanted to pay for something, Word Perfect would also be a great alternative.

On my Linux computer, I have these excellent free alternatives installed:

OpenOffice
IBM Lotus Symphony
Abiword
KOffice
Scribus

I do not actually have any version of Word or Microsoft Office installed on either computer, and I have not missed it. I do still have my old Office 97 CD sitting on a shelf, but do not currently have it installed. I do not know about the rest of the planetary commercial ecosystem, but personally, I get by just fine without Word.

Re:what a relief .. (0)

ivan_w (1115485) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322445)

Currently, the most needed piece of software missing from productivity suites are an 'access' like product (read : a SQL query + reporting tool).

For the rest.. I completely agree... myself (like you) haven't had any MS Office product installed on my computer(s) (some of the running Windows) for a long time (~3 years).

--Ivan

Re:what a relief .. (1)

Rick17JJ (744063) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322683)

What about OpenOffice Base? That was only added in later versions of OpenOffice. I have Base open right now on my screen. It seems to look similar to Microsoft Access. It has tables, queries, forms and reports. Under queries tab, it has an option called "Create Query in SQL view."

I have not actually yet tried creating a small database with OpenOffice Base, so I am not sure if OpenOffice Base is a mature enough alternative yet, or not.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenOffice.org_Base
http://www.openoffice.org/product/base.html

If someone were using Linux, Kexi would be another alternative that is somewhat similar to Microsoft Access. Kexi is a recent addition to KOffice. I am not sure if Kexi is a mature enough alternative yet or not. I have not yet tried using Kexi. At least at the moment, I do not believe there is a Windows version, yet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kexi
http://www.koffice.org/kexi/

Re:what a relief .. (1)

dschl (57168) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322833)

I haven't used Access since Office 97 or 2000. Base is pretty close in features to those, but I don't think it is up to the latest versions of Access. I'm using Base at work for asset inventory reporting and water quality database (replacing excel, which is all that the techs have used in the past).

I haven't been able to get the Sun report builder extension working yet in either Linux or Windows, but that is about the only piece that is missing. I can generate reports, but the graphing crashes, and that is what I want.

If it was important enough to me, I'd just install Pentaho and use that for reports, but I don't really need the reporting tools yet. They should be more stable by the time I need them.

Re:what a relief .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29323775)

no, IT'S NOT! Access is only "needed" mostly by people with little knowledge of SQL who will then proceed to produce the database from hell.

Re:what a relief .. (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29326517)

Access is only "needed" mostly by people with little knowledge of SQL who will then proceed to produce the database from hell.

Access is scriptable with Visual Basic for Applications; one can use it as an application platform on top of either SQL Server Express or Jet. With plain old SQL, you still need an app framework to present the forms and run the business logic.

Status Quo (5, Interesting)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29322157)

The legal system in the US is fixated on maintaining the status quo when it comes to major corporations. There is this "too big to (fail/not be sold)" mentality and that's what's saving Word. If it was "Joe's Word Processor" that was the infringing software, the sales injunction would have held.

It's a shame, because I would have really liked to see Dell and the others putting OpenOffice or another alternative on their computers for a few months while this thing got sorted out. And that's what should have happened. The products that didn't violate patents should have been given a competitive advantage over those that did.

Re:Status Quo (2, Interesting)

KiahZero (610862) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323463)

This is an application of well-settled law on the question of when injunctions should be issued:

That test requires a plaintiff to demonstrate: (1) that it has suffered an irreparable injury; (2) that remedies available at law are inadequate to compensate for that injury; (3) that considering the balance of hardships between the plaintiff and defendant, a remedy in equity is warranted; and (4) that the public interest would not be disserved by a permanent injunction. The decision to grant or deny such relief is an act of equitable discretion by the district court, reviewable on appeal for abuse of discretion.

  -- eBay v. MercExchange, 547 U.S. 388 (2006).

The factors do not lend themselves towards injunction even if Microsoft *wasn't* appealing to the Federal Circuit. While the appeal is winding its way through the courts (and the Supreme Court is preparing to hear a case which could invalidate software patents generally), it is by no means an abuse of discretion for the Federal Circuit to stay the injunction.

The little guy gets the same break (2, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#29324199)

The legal system in the US is fixated on maintaining the status quo when it comes to major corporations.

The legal systems in the U.S. tend to preserve the status quo in any litigation until a final decision is rendered.

Microsoft is a multi-national with $60 billion in revenues and no significant debt. It is in no way seriously threatened.

But a similar injunction against a geek's one-man operation would be ruinous.
   

Surpise... not. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29322165)

M$ has more money than i4i.
M$ wins in court.
Case closed.
That's how the legal system works nowadays.
Lobbying, bribes and little brown envelopes under the table.
M$ even support bribery in their own in-house information.

Re:Surpise... not. (1)

KiahZero (610862) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323477)

A stay is not a win. It means the injunction won't go into force until the appeal is concluded.

Nothing about that is abnormal.

They put mil. $$ into getting US style pat. in EU (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29322171)

"If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today"
-- Bill Gates [wikiquote.org] in his "Challenges and Strategy" memo 16 May 1991

Expected as such (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29322501)

...too big to fail?

I just want my MS Word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29322737)

Why should we as customers have to suffer because of patent issues most of us don't understand. I just want my Microsoft Word. Without Microsoft computers wouldn't even be able to do anything.

Re:I just want my MS Word (1)

drseuk (824707) | more than 4 years ago | (#29323237)

Gran, I've fetched your double-dose prescription - see you in the morning OK?

Re:I just want my MS Word (1)

Steve001 (955086) | more than 4 years ago | (#29329641)

Anonymous Coward wrote:

Why should we as customers have to suffer because of patent issues most of us don't understand. I just want my Microsoft Word. Without Microsoft computers wouldn't even be able to do anything.

I must respectfully disagree with the last sentence. Although Microsoft (MS) is dominant in the computer industry, it is not the only player. In the case of operating systems and office applications, there are alternatives.

As an example, I've been using StarOffice for a few years, and for the most part I've found it a viable alternative to MS Office for spreadsheets and writing (especially since I prefer to use a spreadsheet as a database instead of a specific database application). It's not as powerful, but it works fine for what I use it for.

If this case results in MS Office no longer being legally available (a very unlikely result), people will find workable alternatives for each of the applications. I think that regardless of the final results of this case, it is likely that some people/businesses may consider alternatives to MS Office due to it.

Georgel Preput (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29324473)

I'm with M$ on this. The one time they include good technology in their products (XML), they are slammed with a lawsuit that requires them to reverse to their old proprietary crap.

Please Explain (1)

Javagator (679604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29331401)

There are other alternatives to Microsoft products, such as Linux, Open Office, Mac OS, etc., so please explain to me how they are a monopoly. They dominate the market, but other products, such as Apple's iPod or Google's search engine also dominate the market without being labeled monopolies.

They were convicted in a U.S. court, but the U.S. legal system is probably the worst in the civilized world, with the dumbest judges and juries, and the greediest, most unscrupulous lawyers.

I4i's patent is vague and, where it's not vague, it's obvious. There is probably not a non-trivial software system out there that doesn't infringe on someone's software patent. If all the patents were enforced, the software development industry would come to a halt and we would all be out of a job. Maybe Microsoft is evil, but if they are, then i4i is a demon from Hell by comparison.

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