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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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Too bad
By Belard on 8/18/2009 2:49:13 PM , Rating: -1
Judge says Microsoft owes money.

So Microsoft, follow the law.

No more MS-Word, cancel Office 2010 all together.

The time for iWork and OpenOffice is upon us all!

RE: Too bad
By SoCalBoomer on 8/18/2009 2:56:39 PM , Rating: 5
and THOSE two don't infringe upon the patent as well? You think that neither of them run a word processor that can process XML documents?

Wait, one's Apple, and one's Sun/Oracle. . .they can't be bad!

Pull your head out of your nether regions. . .for your own sake.

RE: Too bad
By Belard on 8/18/2009 8:04:28 PM , Rating: 2
Taking my post serious?

RE: Too bad
By omnicronx on 8/19/2009 12:37:03 AM , Rating: 2
For god damn sakes, how many times must it be said, this case is not that generic. MS was not sued for using XML, as the entire case is based upon Microsofts implementation in MS word that is completely proprietary and separate from the Open XML format.
Custom XML markup “is about embedding custom XML defined outside of Open XML to support solution which aim to structure a document using business semantics, not only using formatting. A great advance since you want to get to the data, and not by saying that the customer name is the 3rd paragraph. The issue is that you cannot just allow any arbitrary XML to be stored in the WordprocessingML package. This would become application specific, and it would break validation since all XML is valid. Not a great idea.”
I.e Custom XML which is not part of XML at all, is limited to MS word and is developed and used only by Microsoft. In other words you are incorrect, no they don't infringe on this patent.

Here are the court files signed by the judge in question:
Notice how it specifically mentions:
1. selling, offering to sell, and/or importing in or into the United States anyInfringing and Future Word Products that have the capability of opening a .XML,.DOCX, or .DOCM file (“an XML file”) containing custom XML ;t
Should MS chose, they could completely remove Custom XML and word could legally open XML based files.

Funny how pretty much any source seems to miss this fact.
Please DT, if you are going to run anymore articles on this subject please make this clear.

RE: Too bad
By omnicronx on 8/19/2009 12:50:10 AM , Rating: 2
To follow up the patent is not really XML specific in the slightest, it just so happens that Microsofts implementation of Custom XML infringes upon the ideas behind this patent. In fact its not really XML at all, as all tags are removed and replaced with special mappings to specific locations for where the tags should be. The main point is to remove the need for parsing rules in a document to separate content from markup, which must happen with any document based on a markup language.

RE: Too bad
By Helbore on 8/18/2009 4:50:00 PM , Rating: 3
Yep, if a judge says it, you just buckle under and pay up. Because a judge cannot be wrong.

It's a shame for Microsoft that there isn't an appeals system in operation in the US legal system, just in case judges make incorrect rulings.

Og, wait...

RE: Too bad
By soxfan on 8/18/2009 7:56:27 PM , Rating: 3
<------ Patent Attorney

Provided they preserved their rights, MS can appeal the verdict to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals on any number of grounds.

RE: Too bad
By Helbore on 8/20/2009 4:34:56 PM , Rating: 2
I know. I was being sarcastic ;)

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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