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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 knutjb on 8/19/2009 5:00:41 PM , Rating: 2
So a Canadian company files in a court in East Texas known for ruling against big business, hmmm. And you imply that there is only one way to put XML into any word processing document.

quote:
not listed in any of these articles is the fact that Microsoft tried to infringe on i4is primary business (pharmaceutical) and actively tried to market it toward that field more than any other.

Infringe on i4i's primary business, infringe? i4i is suddenly the only company allowed to be in a particular market and MS or any other company cannot search for new markets, specifically that one?
quote:
Go look for yourself, http://www.i4i.com/x4o.htm . They have the software and the patent, how on earth do you think their case is not justified?

I looked, it's plug in developer for MS Word, not a stand alone product. Maybe MS did violate their patent, maybe they didn't. Is it possible that the idea of both companies products are the same but the path how they get there is different.

I just think it's fair to be skeptical towards both parties since i4i filed in an court known to be overtly favorable to their market and MS just moved into one of i4i's niche markets. Also software patents are a murky world, particularly those filed in the 90s. There are a number of ways to skin the proverbial cat and we are not privy to the code in question and how they came to that conclusion. Wouldn't be the first time the lower courts get something wrong. It's up to the higher courts to determine if they got it right.

Until the legal process is over I can't slam MS or i4i on such little information. MS has, at times, been their own worst enemy but I'm not positive this is the case here, yet.


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