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Microsoft can pay the fine and license the technology, or modify Word to strip XML

The courts in East Texas have been booming with patent infringement cases after Judge Leonard Davis started issuing judgments that were more to the liking of small, patent wielding firms as opposed to the liking of the massive companies like Nintendo and Microsoft.

Judge Davis issued a judgment recently that is set to go into effect in mid-October that will bar Microsoft from selling and importing Word in the U.S. in its current form. Davis did give the software giant an out in his judgment to continue selling Word by saying that only version with support for XML were subject to the ban.

That would mean if Microsoft patches its Word software to strip XML formatting or open documents in plain text it could continue to sell the application in America. Judge Davis' ruling also hit Microsoft with a fine of $240 million for unlawfully infringing upon patent number 5,748,449 owned by i4i technologies covering a "Method and System for Manipulating the Architecture and the Content of a Document Separately from Each Other."

Microsoft has announced that it strongly disagrees with the Davis ruling and plans to file an appeal in the case. That comes as no surprise considering Microsoft Office made about $3 billion for the software giant last year. Rather than issue a patch or not selling Word in America, if Microsoft loses its appeal it could simply license the technology from i4i.

The original suit that i4u brought against Microsoft also sought to bar Windows Vista and the .NET Framework from the U.S. market, but Judge Davis found those products didn’t infringe upon the patent in question. The ruling against Microsoft has raised a number of questions about patents in the software industry. Some feel software should be covered by copyright like books while others feel that a patent is appropriate for software as it is for hardware.

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RE: Patents
By Zshazz on 8/18/2009 2:46:59 PM , Rating: 2
While I agree that software patent lawsuits are stupid... Microsoft totally had this coming. They are also guilty of patenting stuff that shouldn't be patented. More interestingly, Microsoft was recently awarded a patent for documents made in XML... which seems to be what these guys are claiming they have... both of which, are essentially what SGML describes, so it should count as prior art.

This really just shows exactly why the patent system is broken. The sad thing is that the "little guy" would never be able to survive these crazy patent lawsuits, so everyone is discouraged to innovate in fear of a random overarching patent that may or may not be something that is previous art.

RE: Patents
By dark matter on 8/18/2009 3:49:44 PM , Rating: 3
Good point.

Who come MS's patent of XML is fine and dandy, yet these guys patent of XML isn't.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander.

RE: Patents
By VaultDweller on 8/19/2009 9:22:52 AM , Rating: 4
Microsoft isn't getting any special treatment here. When MS acts like a patent troll, the community here rips on them for it, too. Microsoft isn't exempt.

Yes, Microsoft does throw some pretty BS-heavy patent lawsuits around - but that's neither here nor there. We're talking about this particular BS patent lawsuit, not other ones in which the parties have been involved.

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