Print 25 comment(s) - last by sviola.. on May 12 at 2:03 PM

Currently Microsoft owes i4i $300M USD in damages for infringement of its Custom XML patented technology. Microsoft used Custom XML in the best-selling Office 2003 Suite. Microsoft may appeal to the Supreme Court.  (Source: Photobucket)
Microsoft is unwilling to pay its big infringement fine

Microsoft has tried and tried to beat Toronto, Canada-based software company i4i in U.S. Federal Court, but has been handed a long string of defeats.  In May 2009 it lost a patent infringement case to i4i and was ordered to pay $200M USD in damages.  Then in December 2009 it lost its appeal to the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, resulting in an increased judgment of $300M USD in damages, including $40M USD tacked on for "willful" infringement.

Now it's lost yet again, as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected Microsoft plea that the patent used in the case be reexamined.  Microsoft is left with two options -- pay the big fine or try to continue its climb up the legal ladder to the only remaining rung -- the U.S. Supreme Court.  That may be what it decides to do, its lawyers indicate.

Microsoft's Director of Public Affairs Kevin Kutz responded to the defeat of the USPTO request for reexamination, writing, "We are disappointed, but there still remain important matters of patent law at stake, and we are considering our options to get them addressed, including a petition to the Supreme Court."

I4i has made it clear that it claims no ill intentions towards Microsoft.  It claims it merely wants to be rewarded for the Custom XML scheme that cost it millions to develop, which Microsoft liberally borrowed from and used in its best-selling Office 2003 Suite.  For the small company a reward would mean it could continue its format development work, while a defeat could spell financial ruin for the business who took a gamble on the massive legal fees required to carry out a litigation campaign against Microsoft.

The company writes in a statement, "i4i’s ‘449 patented invention infuses life into the use of Extensible Mark Up Language (XML) and dramatically enhances the ability to structure what was previously unstructured data. As the magnitude of data grows exponentially, this is a critical technological bridge to controlling and managing this sprawling octopus of data and converting it into useful information."

This core element of the case -- Custom XML -- is a scheme for storing and displaying rich information.  Microsoft used Custom XML in Office 2003, but did not pay i4i licensing fees, according to the plaintiff's claims.  Microsoft disputes this, but has since removed Custom XML from its Office products via a patch to escape a court order forcing it to cease sales.  The Office 2010 beta/RTM builds notably do not use Custom XML, as well.  Custom XML should not be confused with the similarly named Open XML, which is unrelated to the case.

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RE: As they should
By omnicronx on 5/11/2010 4:57:36 PM , Rating: 2
I didnt say they were patent trolls - they own and use the patent. If you think I did, please quote the part of my post where I call them patent trolls.
More of the usual, you see a headline with someone suing a big company and you assume that the patent is invalid. You did not post anything to prove your point, you just said 'AS THEY SHOULD THIS PATENT IS BS!!!'

Even when you do make some points, they are once again done without research. i4i's patent application for the patent in question predates XML, and clearly identifies the differences between it and SGML (XML's predecessor). Making matters worse, the implementation discussed in the patent is VERY similar to that of Office 2007's implementation.

The fact that XML was designed for this use is irrelevant, if the technology existed beforehand. Thats why this case has merit.

I agree that the patent system is flawed, but in this case you can't fault i4i. They developed the technology, and they have for some time sold products using this technology, and for that reason they are one of the few that actually deserve their payday.

Making matters worse, none of this would have ever occured if MS just payed its licensing fees. I also don't agree with your big payday theory. If you read the patent, it surely seems that many of the elements of XML itself violate their patent in the first place, yet they choose to focus only on products/services that infringe on their core business. (i.e Custom XML offerings)

RE: As they should
By ZachDontScare on 5/11/2010 5:23:41 PM , Rating: 1
So in other words, given your evasion, you were in fact wrong , I didnt call them patent trolls. Again, please quote the part where I use the phrase 'patent troll' in my original post. Otherwise just admit you were wrong so as to avoid embarrassing yourself further.

The merits of the so-called innovation have been done to death. This isnt a new story. Any competent programmer would find this 'technology' quite ordinary. That its even called 'technology' is rediculous.

RE: As they should
By omnicronx on 5/11/2010 5:56:15 PM , Rating: 2
Its called making an inference!

I've read the patent, in doing so, its not hard for me to pinpoint someone who has not. You were the first comment and made a one liner without backing it up.. It really was not that big of a stretch.

Furthermore, are you seriously going to sit here and call me 'wrong' when your own comments pretty much prove my statements?

That patent is a steaming load of BS.

They're just looking for a big payday, and like a lot of modern businesses, they find its easier to get it from litigation than it is through selling product.

If you think the patent is invalid and you think they are just looking for a big payday... what exactly do you think you are inferring?

RE: As they should
By Reclaimer77 on 5/11/2010 6:21:38 PM , Rating: 1
So can I patent storing baked potatoes wrapped in tin foil to be baked in ovens??

That makes about as much sense as this patent. Face it Omni, you are only taking your side because Microsoft is involved.

RE: As they should
By someguy123 on 5/11/2010 6:26:24 PM , Rating: 3
The actual patent is quite vague and is filled with a history lesson on the advancement of type to inflate its length.

It essentially says i4i owns all rights to using code based formatting for text, which would mean i4i owns all rights to basically all forms of current text input.

This time I'm going to have to side with the big m$ here and say that this patent really has no merit.

RE: As they should
By Samus on 5/11/2010 6:49:41 PM , Rating: 2
I haven't seen the court documents myself, but something tells me if THREE sessions of court all indicated copyright infringement, especially against a homeland company, then this is going no where for Microsoft.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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