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MSFT Hoped Word 11 Would Render i4i "Obsolete"

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 43 comments

Earlier in the week Microsoft made headlines following a court ruling that said the Redmond-based company could no longer sell Microsoft Word in the United States because it infringed upon a patent belonging to i4i.

Judge Leonard Davis, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, this week ordered 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. The ruling is the result of a patent infringement suit filed by Toronto-based i4i who acquired a patent covering software designed to manipulate "document architecture and content," in 1998.

Today we learn that Microsoft was not only aware of its infringement but hoped that in time, with the release of newer versions, it could render i4i's product "obsolete."

InformationWeek cites court documents in its claims that Microsoft threatened to make i4i's product obsolete with the release of Word 11. "We saw [i4i's products] some time ago and met its creators. Word 11 will make it obsolete," said Martin Sawicki, a member of Microsoft's XML for Word development team, in an e-mail to a colleague. "It looks great for XP though," wrote Sawicki, according to court records.

Microsoft has said it will appeal the judgment which also requires the company to pay i4i $290 million.

Read more on InformationWeek.

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  • 17 Hide
    dheadley , August 14, 2009 6:03 PM
    I've been posting about this for days since the whole story broke. People were slamming on i4i about being a patent troll and greedy for the $200 million court win. But they were only asking for $25 million and a jury made it $200 million after hearing a lot of evidence that MS willfully infringed on the patent and would not even talk to i4i about licensing while knowing they should be.
  • 14 Hide
    scook9 , August 14, 2009 5:49 PM
    So they KNOWINGLY infringed on a patent.....how the hell are you going to appeal that!?

    Way to go MS.....sort of earned this one
  • 12 Hide
    deltatux , August 14, 2009 6:04 PM
    How many Microsoft employees does it take to screw a lightbulb?

    None. They would just make lightbulbs obsolete with their own newer versions.

    >.
Other Comments
  • -7 Hide
    hellwig , August 14, 2009 5:49 PM
    Traditional Microsoft tactics. Copy and Destroy. We're talking pre-buy_out_all_your_competitors here. This is Microsoft's bread and butter business strategy we're talking about.

    Although, with all the blacklash they've gotten from the EU recently (and to a lesser extent, the meaningless anti-trust decision from the U.S. government years ago), you'd think they'd be less blatant about it.
  • 14 Hide
    scook9 , August 14, 2009 5:49 PM
    So they KNOWINGLY infringed on a patent.....how the hell are you going to appeal that!?

    Way to go MS.....sort of earned this one
  • -1 Hide
    Onus , August 14, 2009 5:51 PM
    Willful infringement? That changes things. A reasonable payout to i4i for its losses is fine, but exhorbitant amounts for "special damages" will just raise prices for everyone. Rather than paying obscene damages, the Microsoft executives guilty of planning and carrying out the willful infringement need to go to jail, or stand before a firing squad. GAME OVER.
  • 17 Hide
    dheadley , August 14, 2009 6:03 PM
    I've been posting about this for days since the whole story broke. People were slamming on i4i about being a patent troll and greedy for the $200 million court win. But they were only asking for $25 million and a jury made it $200 million after hearing a lot of evidence that MS willfully infringed on the patent and would not even talk to i4i about licensing while knowing they should be.
  • 8 Hide
    masop , August 14, 2009 6:03 PM
    The bigger problem here is when the judge put the permanent injunction in place barring the sale of Word products, that also applies to any products which Word is included, specifically Office 2007. That is going to be a serious problem for Microsoft, if they are unable to reverse the decision. LOL
  • 12 Hide
    deltatux , August 14, 2009 6:04 PM
    How many Microsoft employees does it take to screw a lightbulb?

    None. They would just make lightbulbs obsolete with their own newer versions.

    >.
  • -2 Hide
    Homeboy2 , August 14, 2009 6:14 PM
    no one remembers when Microthief stole Stackers memory compression software?
  • -6 Hide
    Impulse Fire911 , August 14, 2009 6:34 PM
    lol were not allowed to buy it anymore wtf?
  • 5 Hide
    master9716 , August 14, 2009 6:51 PM
    I4I got 300million that they didnt deserve. Thats like Pantening the
    copy and paste feature or the find feature excat same thing , 300 million is WAY overboard for a little shit company
  • -4 Hide
    grieve , August 14, 2009 6:54 PM
    masopThe bigger problem here is when the judge put the permanent injunction in place barring the sale of Word products, that also applies to any products which Word is included, specifically Office 2007. That is going to be a serious problem for Microsoft, if they are unable to reverse the decision. LOL

    That is going to be a serious problem for North America.

    I sure don't feel like implementing some other form of office into our environment... Not to mention the training involved because almost everyone uses some form of office.

    We have local office on laptops/Desktops and it is also installed on our Citrix environment :( 
  • 3 Hide
    deltatux , August 14, 2009 6:55 PM
    grieveThat is going to be a serious problem for North America.I sure don't feel like implementing some other form of office into our environment... Not to mention the training involved because almost everyone uses some form of office.We have local office on laptops/Desktops and it is also installed on our Citrix environment


    u do know that this only affects Office 2007/2008 only right?
  • 2 Hide
    tmike , August 14, 2009 7:11 PM
    Unless contradicted by other verbiage, the passages of the patent that i've seen quoted strongly imply that this claim could be interpreted to include HTML using CSS, among other things.
  • 0 Hide
    dheadley , August 14, 2009 7:43 PM
    @thepetey

    So what, we are supposed to just let MS do whatever they want because a lot of people use their stuff? So if someone is big in an certain area of software they can take anything from lesser companies at will? Like its some kind of public service.

    Ok, so what you are saying is that Oracle can just take SQL server code from MS since they are smaller. Google can just take the code for Bing because it's tiny in the market. Adobe can just take what they want from Silverlight. There are a lot of areas that MS is a small player or even complete loser, like A/V, Money comes to mind, and many more. So it would apply to them as well.
  • -1 Hide
    Boxa786 , August 14, 2009 7:47 PM
    MS increase prices due to this infringement, will only make those less aware, more aware of why they have increased the prices. About 90% of the consumer market dont have a clue how bad MS is, so this will help to open their eyes.

    With that in mind, and the fact that open source based or other forms of word software can be had alot cheaper, it will make them more likely to use/purchase open source based software.

    Its a loose loose situation for M$, and considering they got caught red handed avoiding the best outcome, ie paying i4i and working something out, I think i4i deserve every cent of this fine.
  • 4 Hide
    szwaba67 , August 14, 2009 8:17 PM
    Has anyone actually read the patent
  • -1 Hide
    szwaba67 , August 14, 2009 8:21 PM


    They patented a method of mapping the normally "in-line" formatting so it sits outside the actual text. Does MS even do this? I can't see the benefit of using a system like this. You still have to edit both the content AND the formatting at the same time, contrary to the claims of the patent, if you edit the text without editing the map all of your formatting will be offset.
  • -1 Hide
    szwaba67 , August 14, 2009 8:22 PM
    FYI Patent number: 5787449
  • -1 Hide
    Hanin33 , August 14, 2009 8:30 PM
    evidence of willful infringement... they didn't think the patent was invalid or that they could invalidate it at some future time... so even if i4i's patent is a blatant abuse of the system, it doesn't matter because microsoft tried to play dirty instead of going through the appropriate channels... too bad so sad... pay up and move on and hope they will still license the IP or that your 'word 11' product really doesn't infringe on or uses a method that does make i4i's IP 'obsolete'
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