Word off the street - US judge stops Microsoft selling Word

12 August 2009

Like staring at a Magic Eye picture, you more you read this story, the more you may find yourself thinking it's utter bullshit. Apparently it's not. It still doesn't make a lick of sense in the real world, though.

A US judge has ruled that Microsoft can no longer sell Word because of patent infringement. Yes, that Microsoft Word, which is pretty much installed on every desktop PC in the world. The complaint originates with a company called i4i and a patent they filed in 1994, eventually issued in 1998:

"A system and method for the separate manipulation of the architecture and content of a document, particularly for data representation and transformations. The system, for use by computer software developers, removes dependency on document encoding technology."

What i4i claimed was that they created the method and architecture for reading XML documents, now commonplace in Microsoft's 2003 and 2007 versions of Word. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas yesterday ruled in favour of i4i, ordering a permanent injunction that "prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML." And then there's the small matter of $290 million in damages that Microsoft have been ordered to pay. Carumba.

"We are disappointed by the court's ruling,"
said a Microsoft spokesperson, providing the understatement of the year as he patted down his trousers for a couple of million in change. "We believe the evidence clearly demonstrated that we do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid. We will appeal the verdict." Microsoft has 60 days to comply with the ruling, but will no doubt spending their time and money on having the impossible-sounding injunction overturned.

[Seattle Post-Intelligencer]


  • Paper C.
    It looks like I'm writing my CV
  • TV's B.
    @Paper Clip You may have got away with that piss poor unoriginal effort at humour if MS hadn't ditched the clip about 5 years ago.
  • Steve B.
    It's a fairly funny comment
  • another d.
    @ TV's Dave Benson-Phillips Aren't you the angry one? I bet it's a barrel of laughs at your house. Do you flame/troll full time?
  • Martha F.
    Why the fuck, has it taken them since 1998 to file against M$? FUCKING TWATS. I think Dave's problem is that he has to deal with kids all day, so he comes on here to vent some anger, Paper clip, funny comment their, but you are a little annoying piece of metal!
  • Martha F.
    *there (...fucks sake)
  • Paper C.
    @TV's Dave Benson-Phillips It looks like someone's missed their medication
  • Junkyard
    @ Martha - it's taken them since 1998 because Microsoft didn't start using XML for Word documents until 2003. The reason it's taken them since 2003, however, is to enable them to screw over Microsoft by attacking a product that's been shipping for a good long while. The reason that patents can be applied to software at all is that governments are the bitches of corporations like Microsoft.
  • CompactDistance
    @ Martha Focker Microsoft did not include XML based document formats until the 2007 version of Word and then backported it to 2003
  • Tiny S.
    @ Everyone replying here. Aren't you all missing the big point here -Microsoft have been shafted - we should all be very happy. i4i deserve a medal however long it took them or whatever motivated them.
  • Alistair
    It's looks like your starting a flame war...
  • Jase
    BBC News have just reported it...so is it legit? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8197990.stm
  • Matt
    Funny how they're not after Open Office for using XML back in 2002 though...... I say unless you get off your ass and do something with that "idea" you patented, you should expect someone else to capitalise on it.
  • Malachi J.
    Really you morons? HOW THE HELL does one judge in some crap court of Texas have the power to decide that Microsoft, (as in the company that basically has made any and everything in the entire world that uses a computer compatible(sp?), ) has violated a patent filed by a CANADIAN company that NEVER made any progress with the idea? Are you serious? This has retard written all over it, and for all you fucks that jump on the YEAH SCREW MICROSOFT... calm down, as Im betting 99% of anything you use on your computer is because of some techno achievement that Microsoft made possible. Whats next? Some asshole PATENTS Hover Cars, doesnt do dick with the idea, and then 50 years from now if we have them, he sues the creator ? Jesus Christ think hard.
  • JD
    The thing is, I4i may not have had the resources to go anywhere with it and thus, couldn't run with the idea. MS are a little bit too conceited and probably didn't check every single patent for XML because they would have believed they were above & beyond all others and thus invincible. A little detective work would have done them good and they could have quietly bought the patent off I4i and just carried on with it. I think people like Open Office might have had a problem then, as they wouldn't have got away with it so easily if MS owned it and were making a big thing about it. Hover cars you say? Hmm....
  • WAH
    Patents were originally developed to enable people to share knowledge, and to give the owner a limited time (20 years) to license the product to other parties. While Microsoft holds a lots of patents, this doesn't give them the right to ignore legitimate claim from Canada or any other place. So you can patent hoover cars (al long as the plans are new, non-obvious, useful and legal, exact terms vary country to country) but after 12-18 months the plans are made available to public and after 20 years anyone can create a car using your original patent. There are exceptions and that is why patent lawyers are patently expensive (sorry about the unnecessary pun).

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