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Microsoft Word Patent Case Going To Supreme Court

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the eye-for-an-eye dept.

Microsoft 207

jfruhlinger writes "Microsoft may have had to change Word after being found guilty of violating a Canadian company's patents, but it's still resisting paying for damages — and is taking the fight to the US Supreme Court. If you can't stand either MS or patents, who do you root for here?"

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First (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384860)

microspork is teh suckxorx! lolololo see how 1337 i am biteches

Re:First (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385424)

This AC is dead on about this. Unless you're some gay little commie wanker like most Slashdotters are, you don't root for or against any of this crap.

Re:First (2, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385848)

I'm going to regard that first post not as a Troll, but as finely crafted satire on the Slashdot groupthink. Seriously, if there's anything trollish here, it's the summary itself. Corporations are not football teams. You don't slavishly follow a brand or a company and excuse it when it behaves badly or condemn it even when it does good. What sort of moron does that make you?

Software patents are damaging and a barrier to entry which reduces competition. If Microsoft (which is a huge organization of people, not a gestalt entity, and thus more than capable of being good in some ways and bad in others), if Microsoft make moves which helps shoot down stupid patents, then that's a good thing.

If you're going to "root" for anything, you root for right action, regardless of whether it's done by sinners or saints (and most are both).

Re:First (2, Informative)

juasko (1720212) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386230)

Patents are good, not evil.

However patents should not be able to change owner, a patent should die with it's owner. In company model this means when a company holds a patent, the patents becomes invalid when the company is subemerged into an other owner. While the owner of the company holding the patent can change, the company cannot give the patent holding to a other company. When a company is bankrupt or inactiv the patent should die.

Same thing with persons holding patents, the patents should not be able to gain a new owner. That way you protect the inventor and their work, but nobody else can capitalize on someone elses work.

With such a model patents would do what they are ment for. Maybe also company patents should have a lifetime restriction, e.g. 15-30 years, as companies might not ever die, or get subemerged into other companies.

Since Microsoft is Evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384866)

I hope they lose BIG. This might encourage them to think that other patents they violated (being evil, see!) will also be punished with huge fines, which means the logical thing for MS to do is to start opposing software patents altogether.

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (3, Interesting)

devbox (1919724) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384916)

Microsoft kind of does oppose software patents. When have you seen them going after other companies if they don't provoke the legal fight first? They have also freed their patents to open and free-to-use patents organizations. The only cases where Microsoft has used their patents portfolio to fight against patent trolls is, well, when the patent troll has started going after MS first.

Ultimately, the whole software patent system is faulty. But currently, companies have to go by it and that means Microsoft has to register their patents too. Blame the system.

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385068)

Not directly going after other companies, but number 235 comes to mind...

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (5, Informative)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385142)

This used to be true. Now Microsoft has been threatening people with patent litigation. If fact, they took the outstanding step of suing Motorola - several times! [zdnet.com]

Of course this is neither here nor there on the evilness issue. That's a story that has no beginning and no end, its purity no degree.

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (4, Interesting)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385306)

When have you seen them going after other companies if they don't provoke the legal fight first?

You mean like just last month when they sued Motorola over Android? I guess you're counting Motorola abandoning the Windows Mobile platform in favor of Android as "provoking" MS.

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (4, Informative)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385460)

When have you seen them going after other companies if they don't provoke the legal fight first?

SCO's fight against Linux was funded in part by Microsoft. Then there are the 235 mystery patents that Linux supposedly violated. They're more into scare tactics than outright patent war,

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385480)

>>When have you seen them going after other companies if they don't provoke the legal fight first?
How about the whole linux patent thing..

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (3, Informative)

ISayWeOnlyToBePolite (721679) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385578)

Microsoft kind of does oppose software patents. When have you seen them going after other companies if they don't provoke the legal fight first? They have also freed their patents to open and free-to-use patents organizations. The only cases where Microsoft has used their patents portfolio to fight against patent trolls is, well, when the patent troll has started going after MS first. Ultimately, the whole software patent system is faulty. But currently, companies have to go by it and that means Microsoft has to register their patents too. Blame the system.

NO: http://eupat.ffii.org/gasnu/microsoft/index.en.html [ffii.org]

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (1, Insightful)

eldepeche (854916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385070)

Microsoft has more to gain from the destruction of the system of software patents than anyone. Already being in the dominant position in market share, they would be free to implement any good ideas from other pieces of software, and Windows and Windows Server and Office and all their other products would be able to concentrate on features. They would save a ton of money from their legal department and could reallocate that to their development staff. With as much code as they have, I would bet they could technically infringe on the largest number of patents.

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (0, Troll)

cprocjr (1237004) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385584)

They also have the most to lose. If they couldn't enforce their patents, someone could start selling (or giving away) copies of Microsoft products, only having to rebrand them to avoid trademark issues. Knock offs could be exact replicas of Microsoft software. People could steal everything Microsoft (or any other company) develops.

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385618)

I think you are confusing "patents" with "copyrights".

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (4, Insightful)

LocalH (28506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385656)

Your entire post is false and tantamount to flamebait. Destroying software patents would not allow someone to copy MS code verbatim and only change branding. That would still be covered under copyright. The abolition (or weakening) of software patents would only mean that other teams can create, from scratch, implementations of previously patented software without worrying about the fact that the patent shouldn't even exist because there exists prior art back 10 or 20 years.

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385786)

It's not patents that prevent that today, it's copyright. It's relatively uncommon (though not rare*) that people suggest the outright dissolution of copyright (the famous example at slashdot is without copyright, there can be no GPL). The common position on slashdot -- and indeed, in many other venues -- is that copyright is far too powerful right now but that it has redeeming value.

* Usually people don't suggest the dissolution of copyright in so many words. What they argue is that because the marginal cost of reproducing digital goods is $0, software piracy is not immoral and therefore should not be illegal. This is really an argument against copyright, whose whole point is to allow you time to recover fixed costs and turn a profit without somebody undercutting you by stealing the idea and replicating it at-cost.

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (2, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386200)

Well I believe that copyrights should only be a decade and after that should have to be renewed every year starting price of $100k and doubling every year after that. Does that count? And as for whether or not piracy is legal I would argue that in its current form it should be frankly ignored by the entire populace since the current laws were brought about by treasonous bribes. The whole point of copyrights were a contract between We, The People and the artists, NOT the middlemen, not the mega-corps, but the people and the artists. Now it is simply the locking up of our entire culture by multinationals, since pretty much our entire history of the past since the advent of TV will be locked behind paywalls until the end of time thanks to a fucking cartoon rodent. When laws are written by criminals, such as congress critters allowing lobbyists to write laws in return for bribes and cushy jobs for their families, why should they be respected?

As for TFA? That is simple: Microsoft simply because software patents are a giant clusterfuck holding up innovation and creating industries out of doing nothing but leeching off of other companies with lawsuits, so ANY company that brings these kinds of cases to the Supreme Court should be rooted for if for no other reason than hoping that somehow the courts will grow a brain and finally kill these things dead. I personally think Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs are both major assholes but if it was them fighting software patents I'd be "Go Oracle and Apple!" all the way. You don't have to like the company to hope that another hole will be blown through the crap that is software patents.

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386114)

If they couldn't enforce their patents, someone could start selling (or giving away) copies of Microsoft products, only having to rebrand them to avoid trademark issues.

Not possible. Microsoft still owns copyright to their products and code even if patents were done with so a person selling or giving away copies would still be in breach of copyright law and equally liable for damages. Rebranding Microsoft's copyrighted products would not change a thing.

Knock offs could be exact replicas of Microsoft software.

Yes, and your point is? The thing is, that's how it should be. You should be allowed to create exact replicas if you so desired. You'd still have to do all the code yourself so someone making a replica of e.g. MS Office would mean they'd have to write millions and millions of lines of code and documentation. If they used existing code they'd possibly again be in breach of copyright laws and be liable for damages.

People could steal everything Microsoft (or any other company) develops.

Incorrect again. You are completely mixing copyright laws and patent laws.

Look, copyright law is about distribution of copyrighted works: if you try to distribute code, application, book, ie. "work" you do so under copyright laws and if you are not the owner of copyright to the "work" in question you either have to obtain permission from the owner or else you'll be distributing it illegally.

Patents are an entirely different beast: someone can for example patent a way of identifying objects in a digital image. Even if you write all the code yourself and own all the copyrights in your software you'll still be in breach of patent laws if you also code a way of identifying objects in a digital image.

Thus patents really only serve to hinder software development and not actually have anything to do with sales -- ie. distribution -- of the software.

An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind (2, Insightful)

MoxFulder (159829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385240)

Opponents of software patents should root for Microsoft here, regardless of how you feel about the company (I loathe their philosophy but like a few of their products).

Believing in justice means believing it applies even to your enemies and opponents. Besides, we don't want the Supreme Court setting some awful pro-software-patent precedent that will haunt less-deep-pocketed open-source developers down the road.

Re:An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385588)

Believing in justice means believing it applies even to your enemies and opponents.

Bona-fide wisdom on Slashdot. Who would have thought such a thing to be possible?

Re:An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind (2, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385642)

There's too many opposing principles at work here. I can only hope the entire system explodes in a big boggle, but I doubt it.

On one side, patents as implemented are wrong so MS deserves to prevail.

On the other, prevailing due to having deep pockets when someone without would lose is wrong. Justice only exists when it extends to all. If you or I would lose here, so should MS.

Re:An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind (2, Insightful)

thunderclap (972782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385738)

Justice hasn't existed for 110 yrs now. I just want fairness.

Re:An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind (1)

thunderclap (972782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385732)

But do we want the Supreme Court setting some awful anti-software-patent precedent that will haunt developers down the road? I would perfer them not setting any legislation but tell Canada that their company needs to pay up instead.

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (1)

LocalH (28506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385622)

And when it's all over and done, and software patents are that much further entrenched, we can point to posts like yours and say "You sure got what you wanted! Are you happy now, asshole?"

Figures that you wouldn't even have the balls to attach a pseudonym or handle to your post. Fucking wuss.

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385898)

And when it's all over and done, and software patents are that much further entrenched, we can point to posts like yours and say "You sure got what you wanted! Are you happy now, asshole?"

Oddly, your words sound very reminiscent of a speech given in the film "A Man for all Seasons":

William Roper:So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (1)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385904)

Although Sir Thomas Moore didn't use the word 'asshole', come to think of it...

Re:Since Microsoft is Evil (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385862)

Another logical option would be to generate as many patents as possible and sue everyone else.

You root for the lawyers (3, Interesting)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384876)

If you can't stand either MS or patents, who do you root for here?"

The only side certain to win this.

You can hope the patent and patents like it get invalidated, by the way. The patent can get invalidated with Microsoft still being liable.

There are outcomes that satisfy anyone, unless you hate lawyers and multi-million dollar settlements with big corporations too, in which case, you are boned.

Re:You root for the lawyers (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385628)

I'm confused. Canada does not allow software patents. Did the Canadian company get American patents? That would explain it going to the "US" Supreme Court.

Well, duh. (4, Insightful)

Slarty (11126) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384880)

You root for Microsoft, of course. If you don't like Microsoft, you can choose not to use their software. But everyone is affected by the ridiculous state of the patent system right now. I'm not optimistic that the Supreme Court can/will restore any sanity, but it's a much bigger problem than any one company.

Re:Well, duh. (2)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384986)

Here here.

MS is many things, but the enemy of a patent troll is.... useful.

It says something when The Apache Foundation sides with you. God forbid you code a way to edit XML!

Re:Well, duh. (1)

butlerm (3112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385172)

I completely agree. I hope Microsoft wins on this point, because it will make the patent system slightly more sane. More bad patents will be overturned. (I should mention that it is "hear, hear", not "here here", by the way).

Re:Well, duh. (1)

jappleng (1805148) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385672)

Same here. Yeah, Microsoft may have bullied a few companies recently but at the same time from my understanding at least, they weren't about simple matters, but there needs to be an end to being able to patent software, algorithms, and words(R) because patents is there to promote innovation, not destruction. Saying death to the patent system is like screaming bloody murder in a courtroom because suing each other over patent infringement is not just a sport, but an industry.

Re:Well, duh. (2, Insightful)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385056)

So, you root for the biggest patentwhore ever?

Re:Well, duh. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385122)

So, you root for the biggest patentwhore ever?

Leave IBM out of this.

Re:Well, duh. (2, Funny)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385170)

IBM is a good second.

Re:Well, duh. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385266)

So, you root for the biggest patentwhore ever?

[citation needed]

Aside from some rumblings about Linux (mostly via SCO), and one or two FAT-related suits, MSFT has been very quiet with their patent portfolio.

If anything MSFT has been one of the biggest players fighting against software patents (not out of any kind of philanthropy, mind you, mostly because they want to use the tech without sharing the licensing fees).

Over the past five years, Microsoft has been a defendant in 96 patent cases. In most of those cases, Microsoft describes the plaintiffs as "patent trolls." Over the same time period, Microsoft was a plaintiff in 11 cases.
source [blogspot.com]
actual source (reg required) [law.com]

Re:Well, duh. (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385280)

And now tell us how many patents in the last decade MS filed for? And after that, tell us the name of another company that has filed for more? IBM really is a good second, but nowhere near MS.

Re:Well, duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385380)

IBM really is a good second, but nowhere near MS.

Not quite, MS has a LONG way to go to catch IBM.

Microsoft Lands Milestone 5,000th Patent
source (2006) [microsoft.com]

IBM's worldwide patent portfolio exceeds 40,000 active patents.
source [ibm.com]

Re:Well, duh. (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385498)

OK, you might be right here, but without the date of the IBM article it's hard to tell. I assumed (and read) that MS was asking for over 3000 patents a year. And I can see that before those are granted, several years will pass. But, I am not saying you are wrong, I am just saying I need more info :) Having said that, I own a copy of IBM and the Holocaust. So I am not a big fan. And having said that, the father of ms. Santax happens to be responsible for sales in Europe of IBM... So anyway I look at it, I will end up fucked :')

Re:Well, duh. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385744)

Found some updated numbers:
Samsung: 83580 [patents.com]
IBM: 65241 [patents.com]
Microsoft: 36327 [patents.com]
HP: 26606 [patents.com]
Intel: 23272 [patents.com]

Though, I'm not sure what those numbers include (inactive/expired/pending patents?).
But it is an indication that there are far bigger patent players than MS (or even IBM).
Then again, the Samsung numbers include patents on things like Dishwashers. (are there STILL patentable things being done with dishwashers?!)

Having said that, I own a copy of IBM and the Holocaust. So I am not a big fan. And having said that, the father of ms. Santax happens to be responsible for sales in Europe of IBM... So anyway I look at it, I will end up fucked :')

Honestly, I'm actually kind of an MS fan (flame suit on), well compared to most on /.
Their products are decent and keep me employed.

Though I am cheering Ubuntu on, it's come a long way and would probably be my primary desktop OS save for its lack of support for games and MS-Office (OO.org isn't there yet).

Re:Well, duh. (0, Troll)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385952)

Thanks buddy, you put some effort in that comment. I appreciate it. My believes where wrong so it seems. I stand corrected ;)

Re:Well, duh. (1)

mercutioviz (1350573) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385092)

Agreed. The patents that i4i has are dangerous. They never should have been granted and certainly should have been revoked based on obviousness alone. It's easy to root against Microsoft's bad corporate behavior and also against just about anything Ballmer says. However, this is one of those rare instances where MS is actually on the right side and if they win then we all benefit.

That all being said, I have no confidence in the SCOTUS or the USPTO. The former is full of smart people who don't have even a rudimentary grasp of technology issues and the latter is full of total retards.

-MC

Re:Well, duh. (1)

rtyhurst (460717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385156)

Ideally, software patents will become obsolete. However...

In a contest between i4 and Microsoft, with its unbelievable record of theft, monopoly, FUD, and dishonest competition... how can anyone defend Microsoft dragging this out?

Re:Well, duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385166)

You root for Microsoft, of course. If you don't like Microsoft, you can choose not to use their software./p>

Yes, but I still have to pay for it whenever I buy a new computer.

Re:Well, duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385194)

Amen !

I'm waiting for the day, when M$ tax doesn't exist anymore.

Re:Well, duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385638)

You'll find that the end-consumer price for Windows is NEGATIVE dollars, though.

The retailer buys Windows, then shoves a bunch of crapware on it, reaping a net profit as the aggregate crapware profits exceed the OEM price of Windows itself. That's why you can sometimes see Linux systems that are slightly more expensive than Windows systems -- free as in beer is more expensive than a platform where you can actually sell extensibility to third parties.

Companies that don't shove crapware on the system tend to be companies that offer the option of not buying Windows.

Re:Well, duh. (0)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385678)

Yes, but I still have to pay for it whenever I buy a new computer.

Bullshit, you could buy the component parts and assemble it yourself. "MS Tax" free.

Re:Well, duh. (1)

awshidahak (1282256) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386142)

Bullshit, you could buy the component parts and assemble it yourself. "MS Tax" free.

Yeah, cause that's something everyone and their cousin wants to do. Hmm, I could buy a computer that someone else already made for me, or I could waste time buying all of the components and build one myself.

Seems ridiculous to just buy one and have it working, doesn't it? ;)

Re:Well, duh. (4, Interesting)

naich (781425) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386014)

Not really. If Microsoft keep winning their patent suits then from their point of view the patent system is hunky dory and they will continue supporting it and using it themselves, to stifle their competition. If Microsoft lose and it hurts enough, then it might force them to rethink their patent strategy. If the US software patent system hurts them enough and keeps hurting them, they might start lobbying to change it.

Re:Well, duh. (1)

Barefoot Monkey (1657313) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386068)

Well-said. Why would anyone hope for a Supreme Court precedent that you are liable for damages based on a some obscure software patent even after changing your software to avoid infringing the patent? Because we dislike Microsoft and want them to lose out of spite? No, thank you. I would much rather have Microsoft win this one.

Word is in the public domain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384908)

I'm rooting for the Word of God.

recreational, universal composition of living thoughts, non-profit until the jews tempted Eve with a PowerPC while Adam was at Burger King in favor of a WOPR rather than a Big Mac...

And it's all in the public domain thank to the Covenanters over in Scotland.

Beat that, Copyright'fags.

Re:Word is in the public domain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34386140)

MIND=BLOWN

Hmm (1, Interesting)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384918)

So Canadian Court says pay money, so you go above them to the US Supreme Court, aka, Court of the World?

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384940)

No. They hold US patents.

Re:Hmm (5, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385010)

So Canadian Court says pay money, so you go above them to the US Supreme Court, aka, Court of the World?

The Company and its people are Canadian, but i4i came to the US to sue Microsoft in the US District court of Eastern Texas.

Note, this is one of those cases of true alleged evil [zdnet.com] .

i4i is not a patent troll. They developed software. They showed Microsoft the software, in the hopes of Microsoft licensing it.

Microsoft reviewed the technology, apparently decided to not license it / not incorporate the technology.

The next version of Word included Microsoft's own copycat implementation of exactly the technology. And came to the market competing against i4i's product instead of properly licensing i4i's product.

IOW, this is not a bunk "obvious method" software patent. This is exactly the type of things patents are designed to prevent.

Wholesale stealing of a significant invention.

And the allegation of willful infringement appeared to be a reasonable allegation for i4i to make.

I normally go against software patents, but only because often the things that are patented are not inventions, or attempts are made to apply the patent to things simpler or more fundamental than the invention.

In this case, however, I would not object to i4i enforcing this patent and that succeeding

Re:Hmm (5, Informative)

butlerm (3112) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385328)

This patent is certainly less trivial than most, but like most things in computer technology it is not much of an "invention". The basic idea here is content / representation separation in document generation, something that goes back to the first automated business information systems. The idea of sticking a section like this in the middle of another document is about as exotic as the notion of include files and macros, which also go back decades prior.

In the early 1990s the idea of active content and embedded objects was all the rage. In fact Microsoft has been sued on those grounds before, by someone else who pulled out an idea that was "in the air" at the time. Not because it was an "invention", but because it was commercially practical.

Virtually every idea in computer science has been thought of decades prior, and the only reason long expired patents aren't already held on them is because the level of computing power didn't make them commercially practical at the time. These folks appear to have an excellent implementation of inline xml expansion, but it hardly ranks as an "invention" of the sort that no one would independently come up with for years to come.

And that is one of the basic problems with the patent system - give a company a twenty year monopoly on something that is at best a couple years advance on the prior art. The patent system is made for fields that experience a basic technological changeover about once a century, not fields that do that every ten years or so.

That is why the claim that they "ripped off our technology" has about as much credibility as the claim "I played a heretofore unknown chord on the piano". A minor twist on something bouncing around in the heads of computer scientists for decades prior at best.

Surely some other law has been broken? (1)

initialE (758110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385670)

Although I would agree that Microsoft has acted in a dishonest and unethical fashion, I'm not sure that redress should be found in the patent court. Can't they sue Microsoft on other grounds, such as breach of trust or violation of their NDA?

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385946)

i4i is a patent troll. Yes, Microsoft stole their technology, but that a breach of contract, assuming that i4i obtained an NDA.

The correct course of action would have been to sue on those grounds, but instead they chose to go after the patent angle. I guess that made sense for them, but it sets an absolutely terrible precedent that relatively simple ideas in software deserve patent protection.

Microsoft abused i4i's trust, but i4i responded by abusing our patent system. No matter how evil Microsoft was (pretty evil, it seems), I do not want to see i4i succeed in screwing up the justice system worse than it is.

International- Copyrights and Patents now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385060)

Whatever ever happened to jurisdictional Boundaries? Patents and Copyright don't extend to implementations done outside of one's geography.

If the case of one foreigner prosecuting another foreigner, then I am in favor of Microsoft personel retaliating against this shit. Judiciary is obviously the problem in their not getting enough work, so they try trolling eachother into these international court disputes that never were from the beginning.

It's looking more like dollar-signs before bullets, just as planned by the Jews. Countries are supposed to exist in a proprietary nature, endemic only to the people joined to them, regardless of what anyone says elsewhere.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385954)

No, the US supreme court is */NOT/* above the Canadian court. In the US, the US court wins. In Canada, the Canadian court wins. If Microsoft cheerfully thumbs its nose at the Canadian court and flatly refuses to pay attention, the Canadian court can ban Microsoft software from Canada, or seize all of Microsofts assets within Canada (all within provisions of Canadian Law of course). Those are extreme examples, but valid. Microsoft can chose to disobey any court, and the courts can seize as they like and (potentially) incarcerate company executives. American law stops at the American border. There are international laws, which everyone is subject to of course, but these are treaty laws. I would be in favour of software patents going away. Oh, and while I'm having my druthers, we will roll copyrights back to 20 years maximum. One generation, half the working life of most people. Otherwise, it prevents whole generations of progressing the art. 100 years is 5 generations in thrall to one. The innovation from those 5 gets killed because of the greed of one. Its not fair. The courts and the mickey mouse protection act are ruinous to the economy. They only serve to feed 5 generations of descendants of the creator of the work. 20 years is fair (for both patents and copyrights). If the patent or copyright is sold, any time remaining is cut in half. Subsequent sales will result in the time remaining be cut in half for each sale. A new patent, sold to a corporation by a creator gets 10 years. If they sell to another company, then they get 5 years, etc.

Re:Hmm (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386162)

Otherwise, it prevents whole generations of progressing the art.

No it doesn't. If it did we would not see all this huge amount of fan art, fan fiction in various fandoms (star trek, stargate, star wars, almost every popular cartoon show out there, harry potter etc). I believe this particular claim you have made to be invalid as if it really did stop whole generations, the mentioned fan art, fan fiction etc. would not exist.

Of course, Apple! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384938)

Apple is the most user-friendly, tech-loving, patent-hating company out there. I support Apple!

Re:Of course, Apple! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34384990)

... Moron...

kneejerk rooting against microsoft (0, Flamebait)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34384962)

is tired, circa 2002

it's 2010 folks, google is the evil beast you want to take down. yes, i know some of you still look at google like the darling it was... in 2002

some of you really need to update your kneejerk prejudices for the new decade, thanks

Re:kneejerk rooting against microsoft (2)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385272)

Are we only allowed to hate one company at a time?

Re:kneejerk rooting against microsoft (-1, Redundant)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385544)

yes

Re:kneejerk rooting against microsoft (4, Insightful)

quadrox (1174915) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385556)

I can list you plenty of reasons for fighting and boycotting Microsoft. Google? You'd have to help me out there.

The only thing I'm really aware of being a problem with google is the collection of personal information. But there's a simple solution to that: don't use google/use it wisely.

For MS there is no workaround. They are and have been keeping the software industry and community back. With MS there is no choice but to fight them in every which way that is possible. It's them or us.

Re:kneejerk rooting against microsoft (3, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386044)

The only thing I'm really aware of being a problem with google is the collection of personal information. But there's a simple solution to that: don't use google/use it wisely.

Google analytics is on just anout every web page. The cookie is kept forever. Most users aren't even aware of this sort of thing so "use it wisely" isn't useful advice. They keep information *forever*. They decided to completely ignore copyright and disrespect the authors opinions by indexing every book, then going behind the authors' backs and presenting Google Book search as a fait accompli in order to improve their bargaining position. Google is in a position to punish websites without giving a reason. They have been known to do this.

And Microsoft has a better privacy policy that Google!!!

Not sure if that all makes Google evil but it does make it worth watching them.

Re:kneejerk rooting against microsoft (1)

thunderclap (972782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385764)

No because Google is still needful. Example, I don't live in Ohio. However, my stories that i am writing the characters do. So I use street view for setting and search for places. I say we need to attack Apple.

Who to root for? (2, Insightful)

repetty (260322) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385006)

If you can't stand either MS or patents, who do you root for here?

Just be satisfied that each has to deal with the other.

Emotions (4, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385012)

If you can't stand either MS or patents, who do you root for here?

"Which position do your biased emotions tell you to take?"

Re:Emotions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385228)

I'll save my rooting for my girl friend or approximate inflatable simulacrum if its ok with you.

Re:Emotions (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385594)

LOL. Good one.

A better discussion, however, would be one that relates to the specific issues before the court (i.e., the basis of the appeal, rather than the results of a Slashdot popularity poll). From the Wall Street Journal [wsj.com] :

The high court said it will review a $290 million patent-infringement judgment against Microsoft that barred the company from selling certain versions of its Word software. A key question in the case is whether proving a patent invalid should require "clear and convincing evidence" or merely a preponderance of evidence.

Federal courts use the stricter "clear and convincing" standard. Big high-tech companies and others say that bar is too high, leading courts to uphold dubious patents and making it costly to defend against patent-infringement lawsuits.

On the other hand, digressions in the form of unsolicited snarkiness can be fun. If we're going to go down that route, allow me to start:

Clear and convincing? You can't handle "clear and convincing, Monkeyboy!"

Re:Emotions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34386028)

I'll stick with this then: big corporations will win, small/medium businesses will lose.

As much as I would like the patent absurdity to end, it will not happen. Microsoft will do anything to keep the resulting verdict as narrow as possible, so it only really applies to this case.

Even if Scrotum (haha, I made a funny) sets a precedent on invalidating patents, it's still possible to set the bar so high that only mega-corps like Microsoft get a shot at it.

Who do you root for ? You hope that BOTH lose. (3, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385038)

Hope that MS loses to a multi-billion dollar lose (say even 100 billion), and that afterwards, either SCOTUS or CONgress will kill forever the evil method patents.

Maybe the Supremes will cite Bliniski.... (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385074)

Who knows. Maybe they will simply say, "hey we already ruled patents had to be tied to a specific machine, not a generic one like that used here", and rule the patent invalid, and thus set the precedent that all software patents on generic systems are invalid. But I guess that would be logical, and we can't use logic when talking about the US and Patents and Court.

I have a different problem (1)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385076)

I think patents are just fine, in fact beneficial (although admittedly not to those who want everything for free), and while I have no particular love for Microsoft, I never really understood the hatred either. I guess I'll have to wait for the case to be judged.

Re:I have a different problem (1)

quadrox (1174915) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385596)

Is this your honest opinion or are you trolling? If it's the former I'll try to collect the relevant information for you to understand what's going on.

Before I do that though, tell me, are you perchance one of the people believing that anything is acceptable in business, no matter how immoral or even illegal?

Sue the patent office (2, Interesting)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385090)

It is time to sue the patent office, not the patent holders:

The question the Supreme Court must answer is "What burden of proof is required to invalidate a patent?" The difficulty is that the *legal* answer may not match the *real world* answer. In theory, it should require a high burden of proof because the patent office already examined the patent application, determined it was patentable, searched for prior art, etc. But in reality, the patent office isn't doing that. I wish I could find the public statement where they basically said it isn't their responsibility to search for prior art. This problem is amplified by the fact that recent administrations are relying on the patent office to become a revenue generator.

In my opinion, Microsoft should sue the patent office. If the Supreme Court operates under the assumption that the patent office is following a certain procedure, and they are not, then they should have a case against the patent office. Then, they can go back to the courts and invalidate the patent after they have proven that the patent office is not doing their job.

MS is in the wrong here. (5, Informative)

sgrover (1167171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385144)

I'm sure it has been said in other comments by now, but just in case. Let us not forget that the Canadian company in question actually DID have a product related to the patent. They DID work with Microsoft. Microsoft stopped dealing with them and then continued to use the patented technology knowingly without license. THIS is why the court of appeals UPHELD the court findings. MS still doesn't want to pay, so they are taking all the legal approaches available to them to avoid paying. The Canadian company (IMI) in this particular case is NOT a patent troll. In fact they are actually using the patent system the way it was intended - to stop the big boys from destroying the business of the little players. So, you'll excuse me if I root for IMI in this case. MS is not innocent here - the courts even said so. BUT, perhaps if MS is made to play by the same rules they want competitors to play by, perhaps they'll realize the current system is borked and increase their efforts to help change the system. We'll ignore for now MS's role in creating the current cluster-f#$@ system that is in place. Disclaimer - I'm a Canadian. But I don't care where the company came from. MS bullied the company pretty much out of business by stealing their tech, and now doesn't want to pay the piper for their actions. I don't have any respect for anybody that plays that way.

Re:MS is in the wrong here. (1)

igreaterthanu (1942456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385316)

Microsoft may very well have violated the patent and they very well may have known that they were. It also may be the case that i4i actually has a product utilizing the patent. That does not mean that the patent is valid or that it should be valid.

Text from the Patent's Abstract:

A system and method for the separate manipulation of the architecture and content of a document.

How is that not obvious, again?

Re:MS is in the wrong here. (3, Insightful)

sgrover (1167171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385394)

And how many times has it been said here that a Patent abstract is not the definition of the patent. You need to look at the actual claims of the patent to find if there is anything real about the claim. If the patent were obvious or had prior art, don't you think MS would have brought that up in the original court case and tried to invalidate the patent? They didn't, so it might be safe to assume this patent actually is the real thing. Afterall, it has survived a not just one court appearance, but an appeal as well.

Re:MS is in the wrong here. (5, Insightful)

euroq (1818100) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385722)

OK, I looked at the actual claims of the patent. What I4I has basically done is patented XML, or at least the use of XML.
http://www.google.com/patents?id=y8UkAAAAEBAJ&printsec=description&zoom=4#v=onepage&q&f=false [google.com]

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved method of encoding a document It is a further object of the present invention to provide an improved system of encoding a document. Thus, in sharp contrast to the prior art the present invention is based on the practice of separating encoding conventions from the content of a document. The invention does not use embedded metacoding to differentiate the content of the document, but rather, the metacodes of the document are separated from the content and held in distinct storage in a structure called a metacode map. whereas document content is held in a mapped content area. Raw content is an extreme example of mapped content wherein the latter is totally unstructured and has no embedded metacodes in the data stream.

What they have done is taken the prior existing technology XML, and patented using it in a document to describe how some text is bold, or what the document title is. Fuck that, that is the most obvious use of XML, it's a textbook example of XML. These guys would never make $290 million off of their "invention" which they didn't invent.

Also, I don't believe the fact that the courts didn't invalidate the software patent indicates, by any stretch of the means, that the patent should be a valid patent. That's why everyone here generally doesn't hate patents, they just hate software patents. People patent obvious things and our courts buy it. Regardless of where you stand on the matter of if it hurts the big guy or the little guy, it is an incredible injustice to be able to patent obvious things, which many software patents actually are.

Re:MS is in the wrong here. (1)

sgrover (1167171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386006)

We are arguing the same point, I think. I never claimed the patents were valid or that software patents served any purpose. Just that if invalidating them were a way for MS to avoid paying damages, they would have taken that alternative. Whether the patents are good ones or not, is irrelevant in this case. IMI got told to bend over and take it because MS is bigger. They resisted getting raped like that with the only weapon available to them - a broken patent system. The damages in the case were so high because the courts found that MS did in fact knowingly screw over IMI. "We know they have a patent, but F'em. We'll use the tech anyway and put them out of business". Is anyone suggesting that IMI should shut up and let themselves get raped like this? If so, let's go for beer and discuss your latest software ideas - I need a new product.

Stone the Crows! (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385192)

Re:Stone the Crows! (1)

thephydes (727739) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385322)

Whoever loses this will be totally rooted - just like the patent system. Maybe the Judge will tell MS to get rooted .....

clippy pwnage (0, Offtopic)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385262)

Is it a suit over Clippy? Because that would be hiliarous if that little jerk got his revenge on MS on this scale lol.

whoever wins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385310)

we lose

+6 Sword of Microsoft (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385312)

Pretty much everyone around here loves to bash Microsoft but we will have to have a Microsoft party where we all do a Windows theme for a week on our Linux and Mac boxes if Microsoft does some serious damage to the patenting of software.
Seriously, if MS trashes this whole deranged patent situation they will win the true title of "Do no evil masters of 2011". If you were to compare it to other things on our tech head collective wish lists this would rank at the top with Oracle fully opening up Java, or Network Neutrality. The reality is that not many other companies have the resources to see this through to the end. Even Google tends to roll over in the face of these lawsuits. RIM caved in on one, paying out hundreds of millions, just before the patent was tossed. It seems that MS has realized that Patent Trolls are only going to grow into a bigger problem that cuts into smaller margins.
Yes MS will probably burn some of this Karma by being obnoxious but this is a major deposit in the Karma bank to my thinking.
Thank you Microsoft!

Re:+6 Sword of Microsoft (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385434)

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend," eh? But I'll still stab him in the back if I get half a chance. That's how it works in the real world, and I'll tip my hat to Microsoft for this one (if they do something good), but I'll still spit on their grave if I get the chance and there's no way I'm ever going to throw a Microsoft party. Linux party, maybe. But there's a limit to my geekiness.

Are you kidding? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385416)

If you can't stand either MS or patents, who do you root for here?

Whatever, that's easy. The supreme court knocks down all patent law, finding it unconstitutional, while simultaneously fining Microsoft a million billion dollars for contempt of court or something. Is this really that hard for you? The solution is so easy. You're welcome.

XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385608)

Obligatory http://xkcd.com/827/ (yes, it's today's!)

Re:XKCD (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386134)

Obligatory http://xkcd.com/827/ [xkcd.com] (yes, it's today's!)

Yesterday's actually. Today's hasn't been posted yet.

Re:XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34386262)

Looking at the timestamp, that was "today's" when he called it "today's". Now, it is yesterday's.

Lesser evil (1)

hashwolf (520572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34385816)

"If you can't stand either MS or patents, who do you root for here?"

Between two evils you should choose to support neither.

Wabbit Season (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34385826)

Microsoft Season. Patent Season. Microsoft Season! Patent Season!

MS or Patents (1)

dontgetshocked (1073678) | more than 3 years ago | (#34386204)

The answer is C none of the above.
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