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US Court Tells Microsoft To Stop Selling Word 403

Posted by Soulskill
from the somebody's-not-having-a-good-day dept.
oranghutan writes "A judge in a Texas court has given Microsoft 60 days to comply with an order to stop selling Word products in their existing state as the result of a patent infringement suit filed by i4i. According to the injunction, Microsoft is forbidden from selling Word products that let people create XML documents, which both the 2003 and 2007 versions let you do. Michael Cherry, an analyst quoted in the article, said, 'It's going to take a long time for this kind of thing to get sorted out.' Few believe the injunction will actually stop Word from being sold because there are ways of working around it. In early 2009, a jury in the Texas court ordered Microsoft to pay i4i $200 million for infringing on the patent. ZDNet has a look at the patent itself, saying it 'sounds a bit generic.'"
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US Court Tells Microsoft To Stop Selling Word

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  • by NervousNerd (1190935) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:16AM (#29036305) Journal
    Does that mean the next version of Office will really be a re-branded version of Office 97?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      more like office 2000... which might not be such a bad thing. It seems to be getting worse every version.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        more like office 2000... which might not be such a bad thing. It seems to be getting worse every version.

        Maybe not. Office 2000 Word files use XML [devx.com]:

        Office uses XML in a very specific wayâ"to structure the non-viewable contents of Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files. It has developed a set of tags and a data schema that defines the Office 2000 document set, much as you or I might create a set of tags and data schema for our "Flying Widget documentation set" or our inventory of tropical fish.

        Whether or not

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by linhares (1241614)
          I wish more patent trolls troll the software troll
        • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:44AM (#29037377)
          The patent is pretty vague. Lotus Notes/Domino has separated data from document (form) for years back into the early nineties. In other words, you could change the form or the view representing the data without affecting the underlying data itself.

          From the patent abstract:

          "A system and method for seperate manipulation of the archicture and content of a document particularly for data representation and transformations. The systems for use by the computer software developers removes the dependency on the document encoding technology. A map of metacodes found in the document is produced an provided and stored seperately from the document. The map indicates the locatino and addresses of metacodes in the document. The system allows of multiple views of the same content, the ability to work solely on structure and solely on content storage efficieny of multiple versions and efficiency of operation."
    • by ByOhTek (1181381) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:23AM (#29036361) Journal

      No, they'll probably have Office Texas 2009, which is like Office 2007, except that it has the XML stuff cut out, and a new language code added: en_TX

      • by s4m7 (519684) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:29AM (#29037151) Homepage

        new language code added: en_TX

        Finally spellcheck will quit flagging "Y'all"

        • Good or bad? (Score:3, Informative)

          by wsanders (114993)

          This ruling will be bad for "bidnis".

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by syousef (465911)

          Finally spellcheck will quit flagging "Y'all"

          That feature is already available in Texas. When the spelling checker pops up and offers the choices "Accept, Add To Dictionary, Ignore, Ignore Once", you shoot the computer.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Yosho (135835)

        No, they'll probably have Office Texas 2009, which is like Office 2007, except that it has the XML stuff cut out, and a new language code added: en_TX

        Man, that'd be great! Then we'd have things like a helpful paperclip who says, "Y'all need some help with that there letter?" Also, we'll get an official dictionary that has useful words like "y'all", "ain't", and "fixins".

        (disclaimer: I live in Texas)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        and a new language code added: en_TX

        Yeah man, bettern' havin' all them dang up danm fancy'bagger $10 spellin' correctin' red word dang 'ol squiggles itellyouwhat.

  • Live by sword... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ... die by sword.
    • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:22AM (#29036355)

      Microsoft's many things, but they're never a patent troll, so I'm not sure what you mean there beyond simple schadenfreude.

      • Re:Live by sword... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:28AM (#29036419)

        Yeah, they just use FUD and the threat of patents to try to scare people away from using Linux.

      • Re:Live by sword... (Score:5, Informative)

        by gabebear (251933) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:32AM (#29036449) Homepage Journal
        I think he was talking about Microsoft's embrace of software patents http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2007/03/analysis-microsofts-software-patent-flip-flop.ars [arstechnica.com]

        Microsoft has been pro-software-patent since the mid 1990s...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by aoteoroa (596031)
        Did we forget about their suit against TomTom for the questionable FAT patent [groklaw.net] already?
      • Re:Live by sword... (Score:5, Informative)

        by gabebear (251933) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:47AM (#29036619) Homepage Journal
        Bill Gate's quote on the subject:
        "If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today's ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today. I feel certain that some large company will patent some obvious thing related to interface, object orientation, algorithm, application extension or other crucial technique. If we assume this company has no need of any of our patents then they have a 17-year right to take as much of our profits as they want. The solution to this is patent exchanges with large companies and patenting as much as we can. "

        taken from the 1991 memo at http://www.std.com/obi/Bill.Gates/Challenges.and.Strategy [std.com]

        Gates knows software patents are bad for the industry, but Microsoft still lobbys for software patent laws in many countries. They will win in the EU soon...
        • by rlseaman (1420667)

          Bill Gate's quote on the subject: "The solution to this is patent exchanges with large companies and patenting as much as we can." taken from the 1991 memo at http://www.std.com/obi/Bill.Gates/Challenges.and.Strategy [std.com]

          This isn't a solution, it's a self-centered kludge. A solution might have been to lobby strenuously for the abolition of software techniques or for the reform of how they are granted in the U.S.

          Note also that the word "solution" (what Microsoft is in the business of selling) appears exactl

          • by rlseaman (1420667)

            I said: This isn't a solution, it's a self-centered kludge. A solution might have been to lobby strenuously for the abolition of software techniques or for the reform of how they are granted in the U.S.

            Make that "abolition of patents on software techniques", although eliminating software entirely might be a more elegant solution...

        • by ArtemaOne (1300025) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:43AM (#29037361)
          I'm sorry, that 1991 memo was 17 years old in 2008, and is no longer valid.
      • Re:Live by sword... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by noundi (1044080) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:53AM (#29036695)

        Microsoft's many things, but they're never a patent troll, so I'm not sure what you mean there beyond simple schadenfreude.

        Look, it's a matter of trust. These silly patents obviously hold water so it's not a matter of "can" or "can't". I don't trust any corporation, not because I'm paranoid but because the whole point of trading is to gain as much profit as possible. All businesses, especially larger corporations, have one goal and that is profit. If Microsoft finds itself in a difficult position (obviously not today, but perhaps about in 10 or 20 years), you can be damn sure that they will do anything in order to regain profit. You can't blame a corporation for having this ultimate goal, it's their end purpose. But it doesn't mean you should trust them, or even encourage them. I myself work within a corporation, and anybody who has ever worked in business management knows these very simple rules of business. Morals are shit, cash is king.

        If you ask me any patent holder is a potential troll. Sure they're all nice and friendly when things are going well, but when the shit hits the fan the tables will turn, it's that or bankruptcy (e.g. SCO). So you see it's not a matter of "if", it's a matter of "when". Again I'm not blaming anybody and I would have done the same thing, as would any person who knows the first thing about business. But I'm not [currently] in that position, I'm on the other end, the consumer end, so naturally I have different motives. My question to you is, in what way do you, as a consumer, benefit from their patents? Don't say lower prices because we both know that's complete and utter bullshit, at least not in MS position. So you see there are none. Then what is your motive? Is it because you enjoy their products? Well there's no shame in that, but why side with the seller? If you enjoy the product you naturally want it, and by the fundamental goals of trading you want it for as little cost as possible. In order to get this you have to show your sceptism. Is the price really fair? Are the terms fair? Am I bound to anything which will make it difficult or expense when something better and cheaper comes along? If you don't trust them they will eventually meet you in the middle (not necessarily you as an individual, this applies to groups and audiences as well, but with even more effect), as long as there's some profit for them. Naturally any business must generate profit, but for your sake it should be as low as possible. Why else would MS want to lower prices or improve terms and products? To keep you as a customer? They do that simply by gaining your trust, which you've already given away.

        So next time you think: "would a business do that for profit?" you should first ask yourself:

        A) Is it legal?
        B) Would it mean profit? (In this example it would perhaps not mean profit today, but remember that patents are valid much longer than one day)

        If the answer is yes to both questions then the answer to your questions would be the same. That's how business works my friend.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by residieu (577863)
        Didn't they just get a patent themselves on using XML to save documents?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Tim4444 (1122173)
        never? wasn't microsoft recently threatening to sue linux users, not just distributors, with infringement of patents they couldn't even identify? just because they suck at it doesn't mean they aren't doing it
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by marcello_dl (667940)

        > Microsoft's many things, but they're never a patent troll

        Maybe you forgot.

        MS claiming linux violates 235 patents [cnn.com] without telling which ones, is not patent trolling? It's a textbook example, like the mentioned FAT quarrel with tomtom.

        Besides, for the crybabies who keep repeating the "Slashdot hates microsoft" story. Look at the rating parent earned.

        • by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @12:18PM (#29039761)

          MS claiming linux violates 235 patents without telling which ones, is not patent trolling?

          Its mostly patent FUD designed to inhibit Linux adoption. Its only patent trolling when its used to back lawsuits or extortion of license fees (which doesn't seem to be the main use of the claim.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Dhalka226 (559740)

          MS claiming linux violates 235 patents without telling which ones, is not patent trolling?

          Nope. So many people think like you seem to: That "patent troll" means "somebody doing something with patents that I don't like." That's not at all what it is.

          Patent trolls are companies who exist to do nothing but create patents. These companies never produce anything, they just hope to either force licensing fees from people who are actually creating or, if that company is particularly rich, they wait around for

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by noundi (1044080)
      And then people wonder why some fear OOXML [grokdoc.net].
  • by BuR4N (512430) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:19AM (#29036325) Homepage Journal
    A statement that could be applied to more or less all software patents I've seen so far.....
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jugalator (259273)

      It's like patenting the ingredients in making a soup. :-(

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cbiltcliffe (186293)

      Speaking of software patents, didn't Microsoft just _get_ one for saving a word processing document as an XML file?

      So how are they violating a patent on something they own a patent for?

      Or is this just another example of how the USPTO is horrendously screwed up?

      • by BuR4N (512430) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:47AM (#29036617) Homepage Journal
        "Or is this just another example of how the USPTO is horrendously screwed up?"

        USPTO is an important instance, but patents on software, music lyrics, book texts, movie scripts, pie recipe and countless other things do not belong there IMHO
      • by Richard_at_work (517087) <richardprice@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:06AM (#29036873)

        Speaking of software patents, didn't Microsoft just _get_ one for saving a word processing document as an XML file?

        So how are they violating a patent on something they own a patent for?

        Or is this just another example of how the USPTO is horrendously screwed up?

        No, its another example of someone on Slashdot taking a very specific patent application (formatting hints being saved in an XML document for non-generic elements) and assuming that it applies to everything and anything related to that area (xml based documents). This happens with pretty much every patent discussion on Slashdot, especially where someone just assumes they can think up prior art based on the story summary or title, rather than actually answering the patented points.

        Microsofts patent and this patent do not cover the same thing.

      • by russotto (537200) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:54AM (#29037521) Journal

        Speaking of software patents, didn't Microsoft just _get_ one for saving a word processing document as an XML file?

        The patent office isn't competent to evaluate this kind of patent (which makes me wonder if they're competent about any others). There's at least two (now expired) patents on LZW compression, with Unisys's being the later of the two. There's a multiplicity of patents which cover RLE or null suppression. Change your terminology a little, and you can get a new patent on the same thing.

        In this case, it appears the troll has used the term "metacode" to indicate a formatting code, whereas other patents use other terms. New term = new patent.

        Furthermore, the patent isn't on saving a word processing document as an XML file. It's a number of claims around the idea of, instead of storing the "metacodes" inline with the document, storing the raw text of the document and a separate table (their "metacode map") indicating where the "metacodes" would be. Once you've got that idea (which is not at all new), the ways of manipulating it are pretty much standard stuff any decent CS student could figure out. The claims include (but aren't limited to) creating that "metacode map" from the original document with inline "metacodes", and applying the "metacode map" to the raw text to create the document with inline "metacodes".

        So if Slashcode takes this message with inline formatting codes, and at any point converts it into pure text and stores the formatting codes separately as a set of pointers into the raw text, Slashdot has violated the patent. Ridiculous.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by gnasher719 (869701)

          So if Slashcode takes this message with inline formatting codes, and at any point converts it into pure text and stores the formatting codes separately as a set of pointers into the raw text, Slashdot has violated the patent. Ridiculous.

          That's what Apple's TextEdit or whatever it was called then did in the late 80's, probably since 1986 or 1987. The text was stored in the data fork of a file, and the complete formatting information was stored as a 'styl' resource in the data fork.

  • by isfry (101853) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:22AM (#29036353)

    I seem to remember that this is where patent trolls are born. Wonder what they did to make this judge unhappy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by itsthebin (725864)
      part of the deal to file these patent suits should be having to go and live in that county - then they can be happy together in their own little alternate reality.
    • Long live Eastern Tx (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ilgaz (86384)

      IMHO it is lovely when patent trolls hit country sized companies who themselves lobby against any change in patent system.

      Imagine if MS, IBM, Sun, Apple, SAP sized companies and FSF, Redhat kind of open companies&orgs gathered in a conference, use decades of their expertise to fix the patent system and provide suggestions to US Congress. Wouldn't they be taken serious?

      They are looking for the problem themselves.

  • This is nuts. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JeffSpudrinski (1310127) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:26AM (#29036395)

    Even if you're not a Microsoft fan, you have to admit this is pretty frapped up.

    According to the ZDNet article, Microsoft owns a patent on XML in word processor documents, but i4i owns the patent for "anything that touches custom XML formatting" in said documents.

    The way i4i's patent sounds, this would also affect other things like OpenOffice.org and anything else that uses XML formatted documents. That's like, the entire current generation of word processors, isn't it?

    I'm starting to wonder if patent lawyers can pick and choose who grants their patents from the Patent Office (they pick the non-tech literate ones) like they do with the courts when they sue over patent infringement (e.g. most patent cases are from east Texas).

    -JJS

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      When I read the headline, I assumed that it was some over-zealous health-and-safety ruling based on the brain damage that Word appears to cause (although it's less guilty of this than PowerPoint). I was quite disappointed to learn it was just another patent troll.
    • Re:This is nuts. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jugalator (259273) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:39AM (#29036523) Journal

      The way i4i's patent sounds, this would also affect other things like OpenOffice.org and anything else that uses XML formatted documents. That's like, the entire current generation of word processors, isn't it?

      That's also how I interpreted it, and also that they're going after MS rather than OO.o for the money. It's a patent troll in my book. :-(

      • Re:This is nuts. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Pieroxy (222434) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:58AM (#29036765) Homepage

        To be honest, the way I understand it is that every piece of software that produces an XML stream is infringe this patent. Think every piece of webservice and XML processing out there. I'd say that pretty much every piece of software out there infringes on this.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by elrous0 (869638) *
        And, god forbid, if they won this MS would just be the first of many companies they would go after--including Sun.
    • Re:This is nuts. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by xtracto (837672) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:40AM (#29036529) Journal

      And people wonder why big companies like Microsoft, IBM and others are in a constant race to patent everything.

    • by mwvdlee (775178)

      From the looks of it, i4i has patented what XML was created for.

      It's like waiting for MPEG to create a new MPEG5 spec, then patenting "using MPEG5 to encode movies". Hope I didn't give some texan an idea here.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Except that all the MPEG specs do contain many patented aspects. Which is the whole drive behind projects like Theora [theora.org].
    • by mcgrew (92797)

      I'm far from a Microsoft fan, and almost always choose other companies' software when possible because I just don't like their design philosophy. I prefer Word Perfect to word; WP's "reveal codes" is something sorely lacking in Word (we have both installed at work).

      But I agree, for once I'm on Microsoft's side (snowfights in hell?). Even if they could stop sales of Word in one state and not another, I wonder how much it would cost MS? I'm thinking this will hurt Texans more than anyone else.

      I can't imagine

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        According to this article on DailyTech [dailytech.com], it says that they are banned from selling MS Word across the entire US. I'm pretty sure you can still buy it, but how long until it gets taken off the shelves.
    • The way i4i's patent sounds, this would also affect other things like OpenOffice.org and anything else that uses XML formatted documents.

      Damnit! Now I have to stop selling OpenOffice.org !

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      If you stop and think about it, it probably covers XHTML+CSS also.
  • by Palestrina (715471) * on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:27AM (#29036405) Homepage
    Remember, Microsoft pushed 'Custom XML' as a key distinguishing feature of OOXML during the fight to get it approved in ISO. 'Custom XML' was the reason (according to them) why ODF was not sufficient, feature-wise. IANAL, but if Microsoft cannot implement "Custom XML" without licensing this patent from i4i for a quarter of a billion dollars, then doesn't this likely mean that no one else is free to use "custom XML" either? Ergo, OOXML is not an open standard.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alain Williams (2972)
      Well if this means that those in the USA start to be unable to do what the rest of the world does, to not compete and thus loose market share ... then this may be good: it might lead to having these stupid laws changed.

      It will be a tough way to do it, but I can't see any other that might work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Duradin (1261418)

        Can we give Texas back (no backsies) to Mexico now?

        We could split one of the square states into a North X and South X so we don't have to change the flag.

  • by z_gringo (452163) <z_gringo AT hotmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:35AM (#29036477)
    Aside from XML, doesn't CSS violate this ridiculous patent?
  • by Cryophallion (1129715) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:35AM (#29036479)

    The circle of life:

    According to This Patent [slashdot.org], they invented having the XML hold the word processing info... It's just too bad that they didn't invent a way to write the xml file itself.

    So, in the current US situation, no one can create an xml word processing document, as you can't write the xml, but even if you could, you aren't allowed to store the font and page number in the file.

    This is beyond ridiculous

  • Contact i4i (Score:3, Informative)

    by NervousNerd (1190935) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:36AM (#29036493) Journal
    Contact them [i4i.com] and express your hatred.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      troll free number : 1- 866.526.3536
  • by tchuladdiass (174342) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:41AM (#29036545) Homepage

    Lately it seems that the big companies are getting affected by patent trolls more than the little guys (they have more money). And the big corps have enough political clout to push through patent reform laws. So if they are getting hammered like this, why aren't they lobbying for patent reform? Are they just not getting hit hard enough?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HikingStick (878216)
      My guess is that they risk losing more licensing fees through patent reform than they lose to the legal process of fighting the trolls. In other words, if patent reform went through, they could stand to lose more than they gain.

      It may not be true for all, but it likely will be true for some, and if those "some" have the cash to support lobbying efforts...
    • by Aceticon (140883) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @10:33AM (#29038065)

      Lately it seems that the big companies are getting affected by patent trolls more than the little guys (they have more money). And the big corps have enough political clout to push through patent reform laws. So if they are getting hammered like this, why aren't they lobbying for patent reform? Are they just not getting hit hard enough?

      I reckon that the big companies are using their own very large patent portfolios to keep any new entrants from the markets they dominate. Being large and slow moving, they will also get patents upfront covering new markets to "reserve the business space" for themselves while the rest of the company slowly moves to actually do something in that business space.

      For any large and slow moving behemoth company, the ability to use patents to kill any potential future Google while they're still a toddler is priceless. Having to deal with patent trolls once in a while is peanuts in comparisson.

      This is the antithesis of what patents are supposed to achieve (they're supposed to promote progress, while killing new and innovative companies does exactly the opposite).

    • by Bob9113 (14996) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:01AM (#29038513) Homepage

      Lately it seems that the big companies are getting affected by patent trolls more than the little guys (they have more money). And the big corps have enough political clout to push through patent reform laws. So if they are getting hammered like this, why aren't they lobbying for patent reform? Are they just not getting hit hard enough?

      They have been. Microsoft has been pushing for changes that would dramatically increase the paperwork ballet that one must choreograph to get a patent. That would push independent inventors and small businesses out of the patent circle, and make it easier for companies on the scale of Microsoft, with their in-house legal departments, to use procedure to break the backs of patent trolls who get in their way. Patent trolls would be reduced to killing off independents and small businesses that are not capable of the complex legal ballet Microsoft proposes.

      See, Microsoft is trying to fix the system (at least in the sense that the system will be even more fixed).

  • I am glad that the courts are being stern enough to enforce their ruling, anyone not following through on a verdict should
    be held accountable, that being said, I do feel very bad for M$, as the amount given for the fine is way outrageous seeing as the XML format is an open source format, and belongs to the people anyways.

    The judge was misguided when he came up with a number, and I am sure needed a new courtroom, with maybe some new staff and decided that M$ should foot his bill. No IT personnel in their rig

  • by rlseaman (1420667) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:45AM (#29036587)

    So when does the O'Reilly "Learning XML Patents" book hit the shelves and what animal will grace the cover?

  • I'm just saying... if you cannot use your court for justice, perhaps you should not have one at all. Perhaps the gentle folk of East Texas could then reflect on the role of their humble district as it relates to the rest of the country in comparison to their perceived need for a local court system. -Hope
  • by Thornburg (264444) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:56AM (#29036745)

    At first I thought this was BS... the way they're describing this patent (in the articles about it) makes it sound like i4i's patent basically applies to any markup language (XML, SGML, HTML, etc). It does not. What they have a patent on is using a map to locate the tags, so that tags don't interfere with document content. If MS is doing this, it isn't part of standard XML, AFAIK.

    Let me say it again: This patent isn't about XML, SGML, CSS, etc. It's pretty specific, and, if Microsoft is actually violating it, it's because of what they're doing differently, not because they're using XML.

    All that said, IANAL, so there may well be something important I missed.

    • by MobyDisk (75490) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:35AM (#29037245) Homepage

      What do you mean by a "map" - if you mean a "map" as in "a data structure used to locate the XML tags" then that describes most every XML DOM implementation. When the XML is loaded and parsed, the tags are placed into what I would prefer to call an "index" that helps identify the location of the tags and the structure of the document. XPATH implementations use this heavily.

      If I misunderstood, could you reply with a clarification? Sorry, I'm at work and I don't have time to read the patent myself right now.

  • by Burgundy Advocate (313960) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:05AM (#29036867) Homepage

    Anyone else stop reading after they saw "a judge in a Texas court"? I'm not a Microsoft fan, but this is getting ridiculous.

  • Tough call (Score:3, Insightful)

    by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:07AM (#29036901) Journal
    Who is the bad guy here? It seems as though Microsoft has been hoisted on their own petard. Maybe this will help MS to wake up and become a leader in patent reform, or hopefully they will appeal and win leading to an invalidation of software patents. Software patents just seem to be bad news all around.
  • Patent withdrawn? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zerosumgame (1429741)
    So what does t mean that the patent in question has been withdrawn? http://www.freepatentsonline.com/5787499.html [freepatentsonline.com]
  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:12AM (#29036975) Journal

    For those that are all happy and "Yay, MSFT got screwed!" I would suggest looking at this picture [zdnet.com] explaining the patent in question and seriously think about it. From the looks of it this patent is so vague pretty much ANYTHING that uses the XML format to manipulate data in any way would could possibly be looking at a lawsuit, should this patent troll decide they are a potential cash cow. This includes OO.o. How many FLOSS applications use XML in some way? Because they have all just been put at risk until this patent is either invalidated or their ability to use XML is removed.

    If this is held up then XML looks to be a dead format, and least here in the USA. The patent is just too vague to make it worth the risk, and this includes OO.o ODF which IIRC uses XML as well. If this isn't proof that software patents need to be thrown in a fire I don't know what is. If this stands it doesn't matter how many patents one has, or how much work one puts into making a new format, as all it will take is a patent troll playing "buzzword bingo" and getting a broad enough patent to kill any format dead.

  • by lucas_picador (862520) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:19AM (#29037047)
    Just to clarify, becasue the lede is quite misleading: this is not a "Texas court". State courts (e.g., the courts of Texas) do not handle patent infringement disputes or remedies. This is a Federal court located in Texas. The scope of the injunction is therefore nationwide. The fact that it's in Texas is a red herring -- its only significance is that this particular Federal Court (EDTx) has a history of being extremely friendly to patent holders.
  • by jayme0227 (1558821) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @10:07AM (#29037725) Journal

    Who are we supposed to favor in this fight? Microsoft or the patent troll?

    I can't quite figure it out myself.

  • RTF (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:15AM (#29038745) Homepage Journal

    Does this patent not cover the same sort of things that RTF already does?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rich_Text_Format [wikipedia.org]

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