Print 86 comment(s) - last by BansheeX.. on Aug 21 at 12:35 PM

A Texas court has banned sales of Microsoft Word and copies of Microsoft Office containing word until a final decision is reached in a copyright infringement trial. Microsoft has 60 days to cease sales.  (Source: Microsoft)
Microsoft also faces more damages over willful infringement

Microsoft's Office 2003 and 2007 wove XML into Word, with the introduction of .docx, otherwise known as Office Open XML, as the format of choice.  The new format brought an open standard and better storage to the application.  Unfortunately, it also turned into one of the company's biggest legal headaches.

In making Office, Microsoft implemented technology seeming covered under a 1998 patent (No. 5,787,449) by a developer of collaborative-based content solutions, Toronto-based i4i.  The patent covered "manipulating a document's content and architecture separately." 

A Texas federal court ruled in May that Microsoft had infringed on the i4i's patents and ordered Microsoft to pay $200M USD in unpaid royalties.  Microsoft was reportedly hurt in the proceedings by a published trail of emails that indicated that the company knew that it was infringing on i4i's work.  Microsoft disagreed strongly with the verdict and promised to fight it in appeals court.

Now a US District Court of Eastern Texas judge, Judge Leonard Davis, has ordered sales of Microsoft Word in the U.S. banned until a final judgement is reached.  The injunction also came with an order for Microsoft to pay an additional $40M USD for willful infringement, $37M USD in prejudgement interest, and $21,102 per day in additional fines.  The court also is asking that Microsoft hand over $144,060 a day, until the final judgement and damages are paid (though it may get some of this money back).

Until the final decision is reached, Microsoft is banned from selling any version of Microsoft Office containing copies of Word that can open .XML, .DOCX, or DOCM files containing custom XML.  Microsoft has a mere 60 days to comply with the injunction.

With Office being one of Microsoft's staple products, and with the .docx format being the current default format, an appeal seems inevitable.  Microsoft has not issued a formal response yet to ban on Word sales.

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By Iaiken on 8/12/2009 11:08:15 AM , Rating: 0
How about you read the actual patent and examine the business before you rail about it being "BS"?

I did and I thought it was VERY clear on all of the following:

- What they were patenting
- What their intent was
- How it pertains to their current business.

The patent was in place before MS even started on development of Office 2007 and was unable to show work predating the patent. What's more, internal communications have shown that MS apparently knew about the patent and violated it anyway.

I honestly can't see why you are so pissed off about this unless it is because a judge ruled correctly in favor of a Canadian company against an American one?

Then there is always the the possibility that you are a moron who likes to post THEN think...

By FITCamaro on 8/12/2009 11:59:03 AM , Rating: 2
I think the issue is why is it being brought up now? Office 2007 has been out for nearly 4 years. Its not like its document format has been a secret. Christ there were huge hearings on it in the EU and it was validated as a format. Why didn't the company bring it up then?

And why aren't they suing Open Office as well? Answer. Money.

By ghost101 on 8/13/2009 7:52:14 PM , Rating: 2
Civil action started

8th March 2007.

People fail to realise that cases take a long time. Even though its pretty obvious. You think the ruling was made overnight?

By ghost101 on 8/13/2009 7:54:36 PM , Rating: 2
Just so you know, that ~3 months after volume release and ~1 month after retail release.

By FITCamaro on 8/12/2009 12:03:04 PM , Rating: 5
And that patent basically describes XML. If it is a valid patent, then they should have sued when XML was released and demanded royalties from anyone using it.

And XML is rooted in SGML which has been around since the 80s and does many of the same things, which that patent could be applied to.

To any sane person, that patent is BS.

By wempa on 8/12/2009 12:30:08 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. Why don't the patent offices hire some people who actually HAVE technical knowledge so they can shoot down all these bogus patents ?

By drebo on 8/12/2009 12:11:21 PM , Rating: 5
I'm sorry, but I have to disagree with you. This patent could be applied to everything from TeX to CSS and HTML to ini files to XSL and more. Most of which is work that is either ISO or (remember, 'or' implies 'and') predates this patent by many years.

The problem with this patent is not that it doesn't apply to the company's business (although one could make that assertion as their business is XML AUTHORING, not content authoring or typesetting), but rather that the patent does not distinguish itself enough from prior art, and in fact admits to being based on SGML, which is an ISO standard that predates the patent.

Unless Microsoft's Office Open XML format explicitly uses the same typesetting codes as this company's formats, there is no infringement. In fact, this patent should not have been approved, as it basically IS the prior art on which it was based.

By crystal clear on 8/12/2009 2:15:59 PM , Rating: 3
Some facts for the purposes of accuracy-

The i4i patent in question was filed in June of 1994 (and granted in 1998), whereas Microsoft's dates from December of that year. It describes a general method of handling the formatting information in documents by separating it out from the text that's being formatted. In this sense, it's a superset of Microsoft's new patent, which claims similar capabilities but is exclusively targeted to XML file formats.

It's not clear whether the fact that Microsoft has since been granted a patent for the specific technology at issue here might influence further legal proceedings.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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