Patent office upholds i4i claims against Microsoft

Patent office upholds i4i claims against Microsoft

Summary: In the patent-infringement case that seems to never end, i4i announced on May 11 that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected claims on an Office-related patent that Microsoft had requested be reexamined. Is Microsoft throwing in the towel on i4i? It's not, according to Director of Public Affairs Kevin Kutz.

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In the patent-infringement case that seems to never end, i4i announced on May 11 that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected claims on an Office-related patent that Microsoft had requested be reexamined.

Is Microsoft throwing in the towel on i4i? It's not, according to Director of Public Affairs Kevin Kutz.

“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," said Kutz, via an e-mailed statement.

i4i executives, in a new statement, said "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."

Microsoft lost its appeal in the i4i case in December 2009. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals advocated awarding i4i close to $300 million, including $40 million for intentional patent infringement by Microsoft. In January 2010, Microsoft requested another hearing in the case, which was denied.

At the heart of the case is the Custom XML technology that was part of older versions of Microsoft Word. Since the verdict late last year, Microsoft issued a patch to remove Custom XML from Word 2003, Word 2007, Office 2003 and Office 2007. Microsoft did not include Custom XML in the beta builds of Office 2010, company officials said.

Custom XML is not related to Open XML; instead, it is technology for adding support for custom-designed schemas that is designed to integrate business data and processes with documents.

Topics: Microsoft, Collaboration, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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37 comments
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  • RE: A few things that didn't help their case...

    "Hey, you can't sue us. We're Microsoft."<br><br>"Patents, schmatents. If we're found guilty then the problem must be with the patent laws."<br><br>"Screw you little peon courts...the SCOTUS has our back."<br><br>"So what, somebody intentionally infringed on a known patent? So sue us."
    jasonp9
    • First Prize to jasonp@...

      Talk about stupid comments, you win.

      You honstlly think they sat their and believed that? Come on there's barely enough space on this site for real posts...
      John Zern
      • RE: Patent office upholds i4i claims against Microsoft

        It would ultimately limit the ability of someone to shop their invention to a potential buyer, because the minute that they show how the invention works, the buyer could take and duplicate it without any recourse.
        raimu koyo asu
      • RE: Patent office upholds i4i claims against Microsoft

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    • RE: Patent office upholds i4i claims against Microsoft

      @jasonp@... My guess is that as more and more people start using open source based development software stacks, the percentage contributing back will fall. Early adopters are enthusiastic and are more devoted to the cause. Many times the custom code that a programmer develops may designed specifically for their scenario. It takes time to document and deliver code that is consumable for the broader community. It's no surprise that the use of Windows as a desktop operating system is falling in popularity with this group. Linux has become a more viable option, and someone who believes in developing using a open source software stack is more likely to choose an open source desktop OS to work on <a href="http://www.arabaoyunlarimiz.gen.tr/bebek-oyunlari/">bebek oyunlari</a> <a href="http://www.kraloyun.gen.tr/balon-patlatma-oyunlari/balon-bombala.html">balon bombalama</a>
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    • RE: Patent office upholds i4i claims against Microsoft

      @jasonp@... That is really a big question. Google's servers are the heart of Google's business. And it has long been a FEATURE, a FEATURE, not a LOOPHOLE, that one could privately modify the GPL code they use to run their business. Of course web applications are obviously SaaS. But where does one draw the line between those applications and the servers that host them? For example, take an insurance company running open source on their back end servers. At some point they decide to put a customer facing front end on those servers so that customers can access their accounts over the Net. Does that suddenly make that whole kaboodle Saas? If so, I am not sure I am comfortable with AGPL. In fact, I am not sure I am comfortable with this concept anyway since it undercuts one of the few provisions that make GPL software highly attractive to businesses that are not engaged in reselling the software itself. It really compromises the spirit of the GPL in some ways.
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  • Microsoft should consider using the Nuclear Option: FAT

    I'm sure i4i uses or has used the FAT file system at some point. Microsoft should sue i4i over FAT infringement.

    Go Microsoft, do to them the same you did to Tom Tom and several others, sue them into submission because of FAT patent infringement.
    OS Reload
    • Good idea. It's time for these stupid patent things to go away

      Because the way TomTom and others are paying MS, it's looking quite obvious that Linux does infringe on quite a few.
      John Zern
      • I wasn't finished. Here's the rest...

        @John Zern <br><br>And then Microsoft, settle things with i4i outside of court. Pay i4i an undisclosed (but VERY LARGE) sum of money for them to withdraw their case against you and pay them some more money to buy their silence as you issue a press release saying that i4i accepted to pay you an undisclosed sum of money so they could license Microsoft patented tech to use in their products.<br><br>Hey, you've been using that strategy for some time now with huge success Microsoft, I'm sure you can pull that off one more more time. You're immensely rich Microsoft, you must have enough money to buy the hearts of those at i4i.
        OS Reload
  • RE: Patent office upholds i4i claims against Microsoft

    Everybody loses because of this decision. I'm glad Microsoft is not putting up with i4i's crap and taking it to the supreme court. We need justice here and we cannot allow i4i to continue on being a patent troll. Its just a matter of time before they start going after other software companies and projects.
    Loverock Davidson
    • Oh so when MSFT sues over patents

      @Loverock Davidson It is protecting innovation, but when anyone else does it's a threat, or rather everybody loses.

      Where is NZ when you need a Double Standard Measure, oh that's right he only does it when it is Apple...
      Snooki_smoosh_smoosh
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  • This patent system is overgrowing, unsustainable & ridiculous

    The 19th century was a simpler time when patents were for "big" things and the number of them were countable.

    The explosion of patents -- for even the tiniest things, on a scale where the standard bar of innovation in a modern world should have been raised, is completely foolish.

    Newton said that his scientific achievement was possible because he stood on the shoulders of giants. The same goes for engineering in the modern world.

    It in the old days, it was: Wire, glass, filament, electricity -- hard to find a cause for infringement for the building elements of a light bulb.

    Technological innovation is a synthesis of many ideas. This will only continue with greater complexity, as thousands of ideas will have to come together to form new innovations.

    Now, there are tens of thousands of ideas that go into a modern device. And patent trolls shakedown innovators on the false presumption that one idea out of thousands is worth significant cause for a lot more money than the 9999 ideas that came along with it.

    The 21st century's blind, greed driven continuation of this anachronistic system will result in system where nothing can be innovated without a lawsuit, and an ambush shakedown somewhere down the road.

    It's wrong and unsustainable, but perpetuated because the big actors in the system are too invested, greedy, and profit from easy shakedowns.
    voltrarian
    • It's time to abolish software patents

      Hopefully the Bilski case will help us get rid of software patents. Software patents are evil, and the whole situation is getting ridiculous.
      Chris_Clay
      • you communist?

        @apexwm All the money put into researching new ideas must be protected somehow. If there were not protection for new ideas, innovation would nearly cease. There must be compensation for the efforts a company puts into development of innovation.

        It used to be that patents had a strict limit. I don't agree with patent extensions. You should have a specific amount of time to make money before the idea is open. Microsoft should not be able to sue Tom Tom over FAT, how long has FAT been around?
        (Though patent limits often aren't enough for the little guy, the guy who invented television never made a cent off it because RCA sued him for so long, and then due to the world war and the rationing, he couldn't manufacture any TVs, his patent ran out. Its really hard to cover both bases.)
        shadfurman
    • Working as designed

      From the article :
      "In the patent-infringement case that seems to never end"

      This is the purpose of the patent system, to establish and maintain a legal monopoly. Small patent holders can't compete as the big boys have the money to keep it in the courts indefinitely and can provide a level of protection through cross-licensing agreements.

      MS talks about protecting it's intellectual property through patents, but have demonstrated what they think of other's property.

      Drop the patent systems altogether, starting with software patents.
      Richard Flude
      • Patents do have a place, but are they effective?

        The patent system is supposed to protect the developers of new ideas so that they get a reasonable return on their investment. Consider the case of Uniloc vs Microsoft.

        Here's a guy who invented and developed the idea of creating a digital footprint for a PC and using it for the licence key in the early 1990s. He spent over a million of his own dollars getting a patent, then took it to Microsoft (among others, including IBM) to see if they wanted to buy a licence. MS said no, but later released a version of Windows that used his invention. Microsoft wilfully stole his invention after being offered a licence.

        It took 9 years for Uniloc to win their patent dispute with MS. 9 years in which MS used the invention they stole in software that they sold to hundreds of millions of users. Uniloc where awarded over $300 million in damages, with punitive damages yet to be decided.

        Had MS bought a licence in the first place, it would certainly have cost far less. If they were an honest company, they wouldn't have fought the charge of their obvious theft for years in the courts. They wouldn't have attempted an appeal (it was not allowed, they had no case for appeal).

        It is cases like these that indicate that some form of patent protection is needed, the argument really is how to efficiently and effectively operate a patent system.
        Fred Fredrickson