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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 Spivonious on 8/20/2009 1:28:07 PM , Rating: -1
You have to remember that the core of Office is at least 15 years old. It's very difficult to maintain backwards compatibility and still code "efficiently" through that many updates.


RE: Interesting...
By Xavier434 on 8/20/2009 1:59:26 PM , Rating: 2
That doesn't mean that the structure of the code is 15 years old though. It just means that a lot of the concepts and some of the design is 15 years old.

I am not saying you are wrong necessarily, but it just seems highly unusual that a product so popular and so seasoned would be so costly and difficult to implement this specific kind of change. Even more importantly, it seems even less likely that the cost to do so would greatly exceed that of refusing to sell the whole sweet for several months.


RE: Interesting...
By Samus on 8/21/09, Rating: 0
RE: Interesting...
By Fritzr on 8/21/2009 5:44:43 AM , Rating: 4
Do a little research before spouting off. i4i is a real company, they have real products and a real patent that was issued to them for a concept they use in their own product.

If you had even read this article and nothing else you would have noticed that Microsoft discussed this patent with i4i BEFORE infringing on it and also that the court felt that Microsoft was attempting to use their financial might to bury a smaller company that failed to settle for Microsoft's offer.

Microsoft had 3 choices
1) License the patent
2) Not use the method described in the patent
3) Infringe the patent and hope i4i could not afford the cost of taking Microsoft to court

Microsoft chose #3 and lost the bet.


RE: Interesting...
By Samus on 8/21/2009 10:35:34 AM , Rating: 5
I'm affraid your confused with RIM v NTP, where a patent was previously discussed and RIM lost.

Because even though i4i attempted to license the patent to Microsoft, they didn't disclose specifically what part of XML Microsoft was infringing and therefor didn't take the threat seriously. I don't have the IP documentation in front of me, nor does anybody here, but if you know anything about computer languages, I would have done the same thing Microsoft did and blew them off. You can't logically patent a feature on top of an open source language. Only a dumbass judge and jury would grant such a ridiculous judgement.

Ohh, and please, do tell us what products i4i has developed. Because if you check out their portfolio, they basically make nothing but a bunch of crappy XML software that needs...you guessed it, Microsoft software to run. Word, mostly. So I don't see how Microsoft halting shipments of Office is going to help i4i. But i4i doesn't care about selling their XML software anymore, because they're being awarded $290 million, more than they'll ever be worth.


RE: Interesting...
By AbsShek on 8/24/2009 8:03:19 AM , Rating: 2
The OOXML side of things is fairly new, and it is a general rule of thumb in software development is that if you are making feature updates to legacy code, you revise the design and modernize it as necessary.

This "old code" argument has been pulled for a lot of software by MS, and I consider it moot. They do get a lot of flak for their products, but they also have very capable developers who end up getting pushed around by marketing, directors etc (like in most software companies).*

The holding off sales looks like more of a publicity stunt than anything else.

*DISCLAIMER: I do not work for MS. Personally, I avoid their software where I can.


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