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Company also says that the ban will cause it "irreparable" harm

I4i's victory in its patent infringement case against Microsoft was a slap in the face for the Redmond juggernaut.  Not only did a judge order $290M USD in damages be awarded to i4i for Microsoft's violation of its XML patents, but it also ordered Microsoft to stop selling Word, in its current form, until a final verdict is reached.  Word currently uses the Office Open XML (OOXML) format, which infringes on i4i's patent.

As the days roll by and Microsoft's 60-day compliance windows closes, the company is pleading with courts to lift the injunction.  It says that if the injunction is not lifted it will likely be forced to stop selling Microsoft Office for several months. 

Writes Microsoft's defense team, "Microsoft and its distributors face the imminent possibility of a massive disruption in their sales. If left undisturbed, the district court’s injunction will inflict irreparable harm on Microsoft by potentially keeping the centerpiece of its product line out of the market for months. The injunction would block not only the distribution of Word, but also of the entire Office suite, which contains Word and other popular programs."

Some are puzzled, though, as to why Microsoft would stop selling Office, rather than simply changes it file format and distinguishing between the current and XML-less editions.  States Barry Negrin, a partner with the New York firm Pryor Cashman LLP who has practiced patent and trademark law for 17 years, "All Microsoft has to do is disable the custom XML feature, which should be pretty easy to do, then give that a different SKU number from what’s been sold so it’s easy to distinguish the two versions."

In the unlikely event that Microsoft does indeed carry through on its claim to stop selling Office, it could prove a headache for consumers and businesses, who rely on the software's functionality.  However, light-weight alternatives such as Open Office 3 (which nears Office 2007 in functionality) and Google Docs could get a brief boost if Microsoft Office disappeared for several months -- a prospect that has some excited.

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RE: Interesting...
By Guspaz on 8/20/2009 12:36:30 PM , Rating: 5
From one of DailyTech's earlier reports on this:
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.
To me, that doesn't sound like a "greedy scumbag", that sounds like willful patent infringement... This patent is 11 years old, and even Microsoft agreed internally that they were infringing. That's not greed, that's defending your rights.

For a time, Microsoft considered adopting ODF instead of OOXML. ODF, as i4i has stated, doesn't infringe on the patent. Microsoft COULD have taken the open route and adopted ODF. Instead, they decided to push ahead with a proprietary format that they KNEW infringed on the patent.

Microsoft isn't the victim here.

RE: Interesting...
By MrBlastman on 8/20/2009 12:42:07 PM , Rating: 2
Well, if they did know it was an infringement then the only recourse is to pay the fine and move on. When they put it on their financial statements, list it as an R&D cost and wrap it in with the costs of goods sold.

RE: Interesting...
By omnicronx on 8/20/2009 12:56:31 PM , Rating: 5
According to internal emails they knew, and this was one of the main reasons why the Judge sided with i4i. If Microsoft knew about the patent and thought it was invalid, they should have either payed licensing fees or done the leg work to invalidate the patent BEFORE they released a product they knew was infringing..

Its pretty hard to make the argument that a patent is invalid when your own internal emails acknowledge infringement, regardless if it is true or not.

MS is a giant company, they should have known better and I don't feel one bit sorry. I agree that the only solution is to pay the fine, license the technology, or settle in a similar manor.

I would also like to point out that although your most of your first post is true, the infringing technology is only used by a small portion of word users. It is not merely everything and everything XML, but a small portion based on Microsoft's proprietary custom XML. I've heard through the grapevine that MS is already working on a patch to remove custom XML if needed.

RE: Interesting...
By MrBlastman on 8/20/2009 1:02:42 PM , Rating: 2
If they did know it, it would not suprise me. Microsoft has been pretty heavy handed in the past with their tactics (and, to be fair, they've been very smart with a lot of decisions they have made--they are quite business savvy), so to me, if proven guilty, wouldn't be shocked. It would look like they simply figured: "Okay, there's a patent. These guys aren't dolts like IBM was so we'll just release it anyways and if they catch us, boo hoo we'll pour some peroxide on the boo boo and pay the little fine and move on."

Either way, they win in the end by having the format they wanted all along available. When you are large and have lots of money, you can muscle people around like that.

RE: Interesting...
By omnicronx on 8/20/2009 1:05:54 PM , Rating: 2
Either way, they win in the end by having the format they wanted all along available. When you are large and have lots of money, you can muscle people around like that.
Exactly, but many people still think MS is the victim, when in reality this probably not the case.

MS had their options, they just chose not to exercise them.

RE: Interesting...
By Motoman on 8/20/2009 10:38:11 PM , Rating: 3
...I have to admit to not having read the patent to make up my mind whether or not it's enforceable, but you are right - MS clearly determined that they were just going to bulldoze through this issue, and got caught with their pants down.

The patent may be crap, that will come out in the wash...but MS has got no ground to complain about this at all. They willfully decided to circumvent a patent rather than either license it or challenge the validity of the patent in court - so they deserve no one's pity.

RE: Interesting...
By sxr7171 on 8/21/2009 3:38:44 PM , Rating: 2
Well if it was basically intentional they deserve every penny of the $290 million fine. This kind of behavior needs to be discouraged.

BTW, the word you were looking for is: paid.

RE: Interesting...
By HinderedHindsight on 8/20/2009 12:58:07 PM , Rating: 3
Microsoft isn't the victim here.

You're right, at least, Microsoft isn't the only victim: anyone who uses XML (or anything resembling XML) to separate content from structure is. It web developers and anyone who has developed database driven applications is a victim as well.

The patent is overly broad and should not have been granted.

RE: Interesting...
By Guspaz on 8/20/2009 1:19:21 PM , Rating: 3
Microsoft knew about the patent in advance. If they thought it was overly broad and should not have been granted, they were obligated to challenge the patent BEFORE infringing upon it.

They willfully chose not to do so, which seems to be what torpedoed their case.

Is the patent really overly broad, though? This post seems to indicate that they're not quite as broad as you imply.

RE: Interesting...
By omnicronx on 8/20/09, Rating: -1
RE: Interesting...
By deegee on 8/21/2009 1:56:04 AM , Rating: 2
I've been reading a number of the articles on this case.
It would appear that MS did actually nick i4i's tech and infringe on their patent knowingly, so they are getting what they deserve legally.
However, imho i4i's patent is really stretching the boundaries of what is or should be "patent-able".
To me this just looks like MS challenging the patent by flexing its muscles and crying fowl after-the-fact instead of doing it quietly and legally before-hand like they should have, but this does give them extra free press.
What I hope happens is that MS ponies up the fines, learns themselves the hard way that most software patents shouldn't be allowed (doubtful tho'), and that the patent is finally removed.

RE: Interesting...
By FITCamaro on 8/20/2009 6:34:21 PM , Rating: 2
The infringement was probably something along the lines of, "This patent is bullsh*t anyway. No judge is stupid enough to enforce this."

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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