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Microsoft Penalized $200M for Word XML Patent

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 24 comments
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Microsoft has to pay $200 million for Word infringement.

A Texas federal jury has ordered Microsoft to pay $200 million to Canadian software firm i4i Ltd for patent infringement, according to Reuters.

i4i originally sued Microsoft in 2007 for infringing upon one of its patents related to the manipulation of documents, landing the world’s largest software maker in trouble for its Word 2003 and Word 2007 products.

CXO Today reported that i4i had accused Microsoft violating a patent centered around XML, which is used in recent versions of Word.

Microsoft believes that that patent is invalid, and is looking to appeal the decision.

"The evidence clearly demonstrated that we do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid," a Microsoft spokesman said. "We believe this award of damages is legally and factually unsupported, so we will ask the court to overturn the verdict."

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  • 10 Hide
    dman3k , May 21, 2009 9:21 PM
    if only I patented the alphabets...
  • 10 Hide
    jecht , May 21, 2009 9:24 PM
    Lol I like how the company is name "i4i", as in, we're gonna get you back, eye for an eye, for stealing!

    Even if it isn't, it sounds like the worst-disguised patent troll company ever.
Other Comments
  • 10 Hide
    dman3k , May 21, 2009 9:21 PM
    if only I patented the alphabets...
  • 10 Hide
    jecht , May 21, 2009 9:24 PM
    Lol I like how the company is name "i4i", as in, we're gonna get you back, eye for an eye, for stealing!

    Even if it isn't, it sounds like the worst-disguised patent troll company ever.
  • 3 Hide
    tenor77 , May 21, 2009 9:29 PM
    So wait, is it their use of XML which is open source or how they are using it that this is based off of. Either way this seems like a patent troll.
  • 6 Hide
    dheadley , May 21, 2009 10:10 PM
    they are not a patent troll company. they were one of the first companies, if not the first company, to develop a 3rd party application that provided for XML to be used inside of Microsoft office applications.
    I remember reading about this a long time ago and at the time it began they had some very big corporations that they developed the application for who testified in their behalf. and this goes back a couple of years to the time when Microsoft did not support XML and had an anti-xml, and pro-proprietary Microsoft mantra. this company was the company to go to for this if you were a windows/office enterprise. when Microsoft decided to shift their stance and implement XML they supposedly came very close to duplicating the code that this company had developed.
  • 4 Hide
    Platypus , May 21, 2009 10:13 PM
    Why work hard and contribute to the world when you can just sit back and sue people?
  • -2 Hide
    SAL-e , May 21, 2009 10:31 PM
    Let me take a guess that the court is located in Eastern District of Texas , favorite place to file patent case. Canadian company sues Microsoft (Headquarters located in Washington)all the way in the south in Texas?! How crooked the system is! I can bet you that i4i has open office in Texas less then 1 year prior the filing the case.
  • 0 Hide
    Greatwalrus , May 21, 2009 10:54 PM
    While I am generally against suing so RIDICULOUSLY much for patents, I am kind of glad to see Microsoft having to pay (getting sued) for one of their patents for once. A little taste of their own medicine could do them some good.
  • 5 Hide
    anamaniac , May 21, 2009 10:57 PM
    dheadleythey are not a patent troll company. they were one of the first companies, if not the first company, to develop a 3rd party application that provided for XML to be used inside of Microsoft office applications. I remember reading about this a long time ago and at the time it began they had some very big corporations that they developed the application for who testified in their behalf. and this goes back a couple of years to the time when Microsoft did not support XML and had an anti-xml, and pro-proprietary Microsoft mantra. this company was the company to go to for this if you were a windows/office enterprise. when Microsoft decided to shift their stance and implement XML they supposedly came very close to duplicating the code that this company had developed.


    That was interesting to learn.

    However $200 million is bogus through all I'm concerned.
    Sounds life Hollywood claiming billions lost via p2p. :) 

    Microsoft is like Shakespeare.
    Shakespeare wasn't original at all, he was a con artist.
    He stole all the previously great plays and claimed them for his own.
    BUT, in the process of rewriting them, he made them all better, much like Microsoft has been doing longer than I have been alive.
  • -6 Hide
    grieve , May 21, 2009 10:58 PM
    Greatwalrus what are you talkin about... M$ is always getting screewed.
  • -3 Hide
    Pei-chen , May 21, 2009 11:00 PM
    Socialist countries around the world are trying to jump start their economy by fining foreign companies that still make money. Fail.
  • 1 Hide
    mavroxur , May 21, 2009 11:32 PM
    i4i Ltd, a subsidiary of Rambus Inc?
  • 1 Hide
    Gin Fushicho , May 22, 2009 12:16 AM
    LOL! XD 1st Intel now Microsoft! XD
  • 8 Hide
    starryman , May 22, 2009 1:49 AM
    Another story of software companies suing each other. Lawyers take half. And we pay for the other half as consumers. It's like a dog chasing it's own tail. Give your open-source programmer a hug!
  • 4 Hide
    cruiseoveride , May 22, 2009 2:53 AM
    All patents are invalid when you're infringing
  • 4 Hide
    SAL-e , May 22, 2009 6:35 AM
    SAL-eLet me take a guess that the court is located in Eastern District of Texas , favorite place to file patent case. Canadian company sues Microsoft (Headquarters located in Washington)all the way in the south in Texas?! How crooked the system is! I can bet you that i4i has open office in Texas less then 1 year prior the filing the case.
    I have to apologize for my speculation. I prefer the facts. So I went and did quick research. Here are the facts:
    1. The trial was in Tyler, Texas and it is in Eastern District of Texas. http://www.txed.uscourts.gov/
    2. I am having problem locating the office of i4i in Texas. It is most likely because it is some kind of partnership between the i4i and their lawyers in Texas. The only official corporate office of i4i is located in Toronto, Canada. http://www.i4i.com/contact.htm
    So based on my 5 year experience tracking patent cases I have my opinion formulated. I would like to dare everyone to check my statements:
    1. Tyler is a small city in Texas with population about 100 000 and has no real software industry. If I remember correctly Tyler is called the Rose Capital, but don't quote me on this one. If this case was in Silicon Valley the outcome most likely would be different.
    2. The i4i has created some kind of partnership (a.k.a "Shell Corporation") and transfer the patent. That way Microsoft could not deploy usual patent defense by filing counter lawsuit against i4i for violating MS patents.
    3. At the beginning of the trial MS has requested to move the case in other city, but it was denied.
    4. Microsoft has refused to settle the case because:
    a. They believe that the patent can be invalidated or really limited in scope; and/or
    b. Every reach Microsoft’s client could be sued or extorted by i4i if Microsoft doesn’t prevail at the end.

    There is very clear pattern emerging:
    1. Some great engineer comes with good idea, but because he has no money to start own company he is forced to use venture capital.
    2. As he takes the money he is forced to sign contract that demands that his company turn in to profit in 2 years, for example, and as security he has to file a patent to protect the IP.
    3. This usually is impossible and as result the original idea creator is out and the venture partner is taking over. His/she has only single purpose to recoup the money for the venture capital investors. So the patent becomes a weapon against anybody, but usually big and reach corporations like Microsoft.

    That is how the patent troll is born. So, If the current patent system remain, it will destroy the US software industry and high-tech industry in general.
  • -4 Hide
    ravewulf , May 22, 2009 7:09 AM
    It would be Texas and Canada (although I do like Canada for actually having gay marriage)
  • 5 Hide
    zak_mckraken , May 22, 2009 1:16 PM
    IzzyCraftcompany is named i4i i don't trust them esp scene it's Canadian so they dam well know English


    I'm sure they do know English... unlike you.
  • 3 Hide
    tenor77 , May 22, 2009 1:23 PM
    So I had a chance to do some more research on this. While I still haven't found their direct patent, their suit seems to involve using a customized (aka original) use of XML with a seperate program.

    This suit is important as it could effectively kill XML for companies to use (mine included) Hell if I understand it correctly I've written a few games with a customized XML schema which would make me as guilty as MS. That's one hell of a patent for someone to create something original and be violating someones patent.

    I'm going to file a patent on making a new sandwich, or maybe a patent on filing patents! No I've got it. A patent on originality! Any new thought is now in violation of my patent. That's the ticket.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 22, 2009 1:38 PM
    @ SAL-e

    Nicely done. I recently watched the movie 'Flash of Genius'. It's about patents. If you haven't watched it, I HIGHLY recommend you see it if you're interested in patents, and justice for the garage-based inventors.
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