Patent for help function sparks legal fight

Patent for help function sparks legal fight

Summary: A Japanese rival of Word stands accused of violating a patent for the help function, in a case that some say illustrates the dangers of software patents

TOPICS: Government UK
Microsoft's main competitor in the Japanese word-processing market has been ordered to stop selling its product because it infringes a patent filed by electronics giant Matsushita, according to reports on Monday.

The Tokyo District Court ruled last week that Ichitaro, a word-processing software produced by software company Justsystem, infringes the patent for a help function, according to a report in The Japan Times Online.

Justsystem is understood to be planning to appeal the ruling and can continue selling the products until a decision is made in a higher court .

Florian Mueller, the campaign manager of an anti-patent Web site, said on Monday that this is a sign of the damage that Europe's Computer Implemented Inventions Directive could cause to companies.

"I'm devastated to read that the survival of Microsoft Word's major competitor in Japan is now in jeopardy," said Mueller. "Let's hope that European politicians will learn this lesson and make sure we don't get the same problems here. With the directive that's proposed by the EU Council, that's exactly what would happen within a very few years."

The European Parliament last week demanded a rethink of the software patent directive, but some campaigners are concerned as the European Commission has not yet decided whether to agree to its demand.

Topic: Government UK

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  • Interesting to note that nobody seems to care how court systems all over the world are abused by some for reasons still explained badly today.

    Even stranger, politicians worldwide seem eager to make such court room abuse much easier by thinking about allowing things like software patents and not ensuring that the punishment is ten times greater then the possible profits gained by mispractise that's found to be illegal by law.

    As usual, ignorance comes at a price for most.

    In IT details matters. Politicians and decision makers generally try to stay as far away from details as possible. Guess who has the advantage.
  • hi, there probably are minor details, but stil thought i'd comment.

    1. the court haven't 'ordered' yet. they haven't given the provisional ruling yet, so until the case settles (so that's after the second appealing by justsystem), you'll still see their produts in shops.

    2. there's tons of Ichitaro-users, AND non-users, who are "dissapointed" by Panasonic. they've got togather and formed a petition site. you may be interested.

  • Microsoft help sucks. Microsoft should just rip the japanese version of and pay them for it, it can't possibly be wose than the microsoft version. Mind you i've seen some really crappy word ripp offs