Patent Suit Forces MSFT to Change to Word, Office

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akhodjaev

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My suggestion would be to buy i4i instead of paying them fine...

And that will take care all patent issues... and it may not cost as much, as well they will not spend extra money on redesign

And if I4I has other patents they may use it in the future...
 

intelliclint

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The problem is the patient pretty much covers all programs that convert file that uses proprietary meta data to hold document formatting commands and converts it into SGML format like XML to hold those same commands. Really this company should have be granted a copyright for their software not a patient on the idea.

This means Open Office is also in violation.
 

webbwbb

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I hope i4i doesn't sue me! I use XHTML on my website to manipulate text. Since XHTML uses XML then I guess they could now sue any site that uses that standard since it clearly infringes on their patent.
 

scytherswings

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I may be mistaken, but what about all those other text editing programs? Is OpenOffice.Org infringing on this patent too? What about Apple's iWork?
 

jhansonxi

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Of course this won't stop Microsoft from filing a few thousand more non-innovative patents of their own in the next year. The USA patent office and patent lawyers are both happy with the current situation.
 

rockyjohn

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What exactly does this mean and what is the impact?
Does this just apply to some "custom XML" or all XML?

If I used just general Word functions and stored documents in XML will I not be able to open and use them in future versions of XML?
 

sliem

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@Shadow703793: there is no such thing in TH news. This is Kevin's personal blog. Leave him alone with his spelling errors, typos, wrong video link and invisible article contents.
 

jcknouse

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Funny thing is...

The "little-used feature" is on 10Ms of computers in businesses and houses in the United States. So, that "little-used feature" is part of billions of executions of document formatting daily.

That little used feature was important enough that Microsoft "willfully infringed" on i4i's patent.

Good job, i4i. Nice to see someone not get run over by the Microsoft 800 lb gorilla for a change.
 

T-Bone

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Agree w/demonhorde665. Why they even got a patent for such a non-specific & generic functionality, is beyond me? How this actually helps anyone, is also beyond me.
 

ice_mountain_

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ludicrous that ppl can patent a general idea. i should be allowed to patent a "self-powered 4 wheel vehicle" and then sue every motor company in existence
 

dheadley

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First of all, if you read any of the hundreds of articles all around the web earlier this year you would know that this patent is not:

1. a patent on XML and the whole XML is ment to be customized so it should be invalid does not cover it.

2. is not non-specific or generic in any way, nor was it obvious back when it this company came up with it which was years before the feature was added to word.

3. a company that is just sueing because they have a patent and no real product. In fact they were for years the largest and most successful data specialist of this type there was.

The federal government gave them the largest government contract ever issued to any one company, including Microsoft, to completely overhaul the United States Patent Office using this very technology. They are also co-developer of the FDA's electronic documentation system that all drug companies and such have to use.

Right after these two things happened Microsoft "conviently" inserted the ability to interact with those agencies electronic documentation systems, which are not standard XML, into Word after entering into a collaberation partnership with i4i, getting their hands on the code and then desolving the collaberation as having no worthwhile outcome. Then turning around a short time later and releasing the code in Word.

A few months back I read at least ten articles from major developers, patent researchers, technology analsyst and so on that read the patent and explained in great detail why it was pretty much iron-clad and was not invalidated by a whole bunch of different "prior art" suggestions going all the way back to computings early days that were being tossed out there in message boards just like this one.

Through the couple years that this suit has been going on Microsoft with all its money has never been able to offer any evidence that the patent is invalid, and as of the stories a few months back had never actually offically challenged the patent with the USPO. On the other hand it was proven with emails, letters and other documentation that they knowingly violated the patent with full knowledge of their actions. So much so that a JURY, plain average people and not some judge in some patent troll friendly court, awarded them over $200m dollars when they were only asking for $25m, which is what they considered to be the liscensing fee that Microsoft should have paid for all the copies of Word it had sold in the years it was infringing.


 

rockyjohn

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Dhedley, since you appear to be knowledable on this subject, can you answer my questons:

What exactly does this mean and what is the impact?

If I used just general Word functions and stored documents in XML will I not be able to open and use them in future versions of XML?

 

rockyjohn

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So our dear government let them build a system with proprietary code that prevented document sharing with the most common word processing system used by business and the public? I thought companies and governemts learned long ago about the problems of incompatibility between systems and took appropriate steps to prevent it.
 

dheadley

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@rockyjohn

They went with the "proprietary" code of this system over the "proprietary" Microsoft format because it designed with one purpous that no Microsoft format at the time was well suited for. The storage of vast amounts of information in minimal space, the fast searching and retrieval of information, submission and/or conversion of all information to a common format, seperation of information from document formatting, who knows how many reasons or what they were at the time.

Microsoft on the other hand can't get compatability right between versions of thier own products. Who would want to except document submissions from people in whatever version they happen to have. It's one thing to run Office in one company, because you have control over the version you are running. It's another to have no control over what version outside sources are using to send their data to you.

BTW, I am not knowledgable about it other than reading the articles around the web that have popped up during the two or three times that this court battle has made it to the headlines and then doing a few google and bing searchs on the company i4i and reading about their accomplishments.

Really I am not pro-i4i or anti-Microsoft overall. I am just a little baffled and annouyed that each time this has hit the headlines there has been this attitiude that Office/Word is just so damn important that even if the infringement is true, the government should just take the patent from this company and give it to Microsoft so Word is not affected. I find it very offensive that ANYONE would ever justify taking someone else's work and giving it to a big corporation for the good of the public. WOrd is not that important by a long shot. I'd rather see it be permanently banned than see a president such as that set.
 

matt87_50

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this is the stupidest patent suit i've ever heard. it sounds like something someone could very easily come up with by them selves unaware that there is already a patent for it. this is a simple money grabbing scheme.
 

rockyjohn

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Thanks for the response.

I am not suggesting that the government should take anything - but negotiate for it if they had to use it. In the situation of the proprietary FDA software - and the patent software if it is similar, what is the government forcing on private companies? Do they get free access to the software to load their data? And even if they do, what do they have to do to input or convert their data from the format it already is in? And then what happens when the government wants to use the data outside of the collection (and presumably reporting) system? Translate it back again?

One of the big reasons the government computer system is such a mess is the multiplicity of incompatible systems they use. To minimize cost both on private users and within government, they need to develop compatible systems . This is, off course, one of the purposes of XML in the first place. But to then implement a custom version makes little sense to me. If anything, the government should be using its massive purchasing power to converge systems and go towards open source, not develop another incompatible system.

I admit I am no expert on this either, or on government comuter systems, but have experienced the "not compatible" issues before in both private companies and government. I wish governemt would go to open systems and perhaps even fund the effort on some level to aid in this effort. I bet they could fund and use open systems and still save a bundle.

I have never understood, other than the early power and domininance of Microsoft in PC operating systems and office software, why hardware companies develop standards to insure interoperatiblity but software companies seen to have no similar standards. Further, I also cannot undersand why sanctions under anti-monopoly laws have never been applied against MS.
 

zoemayne

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Seems like they're "patent trolls". If Openoffice and websites are in violation of this patent than this is not good news if they can win against microsoft than they can milk any company for this patent. I dont know the details of this but for a company to win a lawsuit thats gains more than their patent would of gained them doesnt seem right. If they required 25 million for licensing than they should of just probably gave them 25million + 10 million in damages... not 290 million.

Microsoft should just buy that measly company fire their lawyers and outsource all their employees. Destroy them.
 

rockyjohn

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So Zoe - you think the jurors that heard all the information and made what they thought was a fair decision were wrong? Why do you call the jury verdict "milking"?

Dheadly apparently did a fair amount of research and said they were not patent trolls and explained why. On what basis do you override that?

Why should Microsoft just buy the company now? Its value just increased substantially as a result of the judgement. And if they purchased them now - it would most surely cost more than the judgement since its value should have INCREASED by that amount. To purcahse and then destroy them would throw away the purchase price - essentially doubling the cost of the judgement. If they did that and I were an investor, I would sue the heck out of them - essentially let them pay the judgement a third time. What drives you to seek such costly revenge?

Apparently what MS should have done was pay the $25 million in the first place and not try to steamroller another competitor, or, as it also seems, act in bad faith with a partner once they originally partnered with them.
 
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