Judges uphold Word patent-infringement ruling

Judges uphold Word patent-infringement ruling

Summary: A US Court of Appeals panel has upheld a judgement that Microsoft infringed on another company's patent with its custom XML tags in Word 2003 and Word 2007.

A US Court of Appeals panel has upheld a judgement that Microsoft infringed on another company's patent with its custom XML tags in Word 2003 and Word 2007.

The judges were asked to reconsider a 2009 ruling regarding i4i's patent, which covers a "method and system for manipulating the architecture and the content of a document separately from each other". Microsoft lost its first appeal in December, and then lodged a second appeal for a panel hearing and for an 'en banc review' before the full appeals court. The Texas federal circuit panel's decision on Wednesday is part of that process.

"The appeals court has again upheld the lower court's decision in its entirety," i4i chairman Loudon Owen said in a statement. "In addition, it issued a more detailed analysis in concerning the finding of willfulness in this case. The determination that Microsoft willfully infringed i4i's patent stands."

In May 2009, a Texas jury ordered Microsoft to pay $200m (£128m at the time) to i4i for infringing on the patent. Then, in August, a Texas judge granted i4i an injunction against Microsoft that prohibited the software maker from carrying out US sales or imports of any Word products that can open XML, DOCX or DOCM files containing custom XML.

Microsoft issued an US-only update to Word 2007 in January this year, removing the functionality that the lower court found infringed on i4i's patent. In February, i4i released a product, x4w V 1.0, which it said returns custom XML functionality to Word 2007 documents.

For more of this story, read Judges uphold Word patent-infringement ruling on ZDNet UK.

Topics: Legal, Collaboration, Microsoft, Software

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • I guess since

    MS does not seem to respect other people's IP, we do not need to respect theirs. Sounds fair doesn't it?

    Did I read the word "willful" somewhere?
    • as long as you are willing

      to pony up the $200 million should you get caught
      (just like MS), I say go for it.
      • It's a lot more than $200 million

        They probably spent more than that just on attorneys and court fees ;)
      • Are you crazy?

        Where will you find a judge crazy enough to produce something like that?

        How could an individual not paying to use Microsoft's IP inflict a loss comparable to that Microsoft inflicted on i4i by not paying for i4i's IP?
        Great Kahuna
      • Well yeah...

        that aspect of it did cross my mind. Hopefully the damages would be a bit lighter, but I guess when you willfully infringe on someone's IP you do not expect to get caught and even try NOT to get caught, so yes, it is a bit of a gamble.

        My post was, as you appear to have gathered, made tongue in cheek. What troubles me however is that MS apparently has a long history of this kind of conduct, which I do find quite troubling. Some of the entities MS has allegedly ripped off in the past may not have had the resources to fight back. Ethics does not appear to be part of the MS corporate DNA, but I guess you might be able to say that about a lot of big corporations.
    • Considering they're the largest victim of software piracy...

      worldwide? Yes, I'd say that's pretty much the M.O.

      Usually,I wouldn't defend them, but in this case, I think it's a garbage patent. It's like patenting the ability of round objects to roll. I don't think anything associated with or built on top of an open specification like XML should be patentable.

      The case boils down to this:

      "Data should be self describing, oh but, you can't actually *do* anything with the data, or you're violating i4i's patent on self-defining data in things that are *useful*"
  • Microsoft pin money

    Microsoft can afford to drop a few hundred million dollars trying to destroy, through extended litigation, a company who's IP they have wilfully stolen and "innovated" into their own product suite. It's pin money.

    They've certainly had a lot of practice ....


    It's okay if Microsoft infringes on other peoples IP but if Apple does then their the worse of the worst infringers!!
    Arm A. Geddon
    • EVIL APPLE!!

      Arm A. Geddon
  • RE: Judges uphold Word patent-infringement ruling

    So now i4i can do the same thing to Microsoft that Microsoft tried to do to Sun and say, "We'll go away if you pay a royalty on every sale of Office."or do the same thing that Apple is trying to do to HTC and say, "Office will never do XML again without our products and have a nice little monopoly."


    i4i should notice the lesson that Karma is teaching here, take the win, and not be too ready to exploit it.
  • So where are the rants about evil patents?

    Uh huh, I see...
  • Does Cheese come with the whine.

    The only people that even care are people that hate MS cause they make so much money. Forget about the fools that got all the money from the wars and land grabs in history. No, No, lets get mad at MS cause they won't give me windows for free. Please people, stop expecting something for nothing. MS owes this company like any company would owe for infringing, but the hate I see here, which is generally from people that have no stake whatsoever in either MS or the company infringed upon, is just plain stupid. Stop yer whining! I would willfully infringe too if I knew I could pay the fine. Its a part of American Capitalism. Like it or lump it! It's life. Now, go get another box of tissue, yer nose is runnin! LOL
    • If you would...

      willfully steal from someone just because you are willing to pay the consequences shows a lot about your integrity and character. Did your parents ever teach you the difference between right and wrong?
      • Agreed

        Didn't your parents teach you that two wrongs don't make it right.

        I'd like to know where you work because if thats their attitude I want to make sure I never invest any money in it!!
  • If MS insists on...

    playing this patent game, what's good for the goose...
  • M$ ignores i4i software patent while enforcing their own, classic duplicity

    of greedy unscrupulous capitalists.

    let's disband software function patents and just rely on copyright law.

    this is ridiculous.

  • *slow clap*

    That is some phenomenally condensed trolling. Good show!