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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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:19AM (#29036321)
    more like office 2000... which might not be such a bad thing. It seems to be getting worse every version.
  • 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.....
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by natehoy (1608657) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:28AM (#29036417) Journal

    OpenOffice uses XML files by default, the format is openly-documented so anyone can use it, but it's XML. So, assuming i2i's patent is held up, how long before the OpenOffice injunction starts?

    Microsoft can simply release a patch that forces Word back to the old proprietary DOC format they've been using variants of since Word 1.0. OpenOffice would have to make up a new document format, if i2i decided to continue their pursuit.

    And if there's one thing we've learned about scum-sucking patent trollers, it's that they'll root and root for every penny they can, and don't really care about the damage they do.

  • by CFBMoo1 (157453) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:33AM (#29036463) Homepage
    I actually like Open Office more then Office 2007, it doesn't have that rotten ribbon that makes it a pain in the backside to find things. Sadly my job is set around Office 2003 going to Office 2007.
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:38AM (#29036507) Homepage
    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.

  • by Jugalator (259273) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:38AM (#29036513) Journal

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

  • 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. :-(

  • by cbiltcliffe (186293) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:40AM (#29036527) Homepage Journal

    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?

  • 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 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?

  • by Dr. Evil (3501) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @08:44AM (#29036583)

    The enemy of your enemy is your friend.

    ... unless they're both enemies, and they're really big, then you just stand back and be happy that they're not fighting you.

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Re:This is nuts. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:07AM (#29036903)
    And, god forbid, if they won this MS would just be the first of many companies they would go after--including Sun.
  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> 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 residieu (577863) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:25AM (#29037115)
    Didn't they just get a patent themselves on using XML to save documents?
  • by Duradin (1261418) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @09:38AM (#29037295)

    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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @10:02AM (#29037677)

    When this court shuts down the likes of Buffalo WiFi products, Slashdot hates this court.
    However when this court slams down on Microsoft, Slashdot loves the judge.
    Go Figure :-/

  • 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).

  • by gnupun (752725) on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @11:06AM (#29038595)

    be happy that they're not fighting you.

    That's what they'd like you to think.

  • 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.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 12, 2009 @02:35PM (#29041885)

    It's extortion of fees from the consumer, since if one drops linux it has to install another OS, OSX requires special hardware, which one remains?

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