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Why Syzygy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-12-09 04:01 PM
Original message
Judge orders Microsoft to stop selling Word
Whaaa? :wow:

SEATTLE — The Canadian tech company that won a federal district court injunction ordering Microsoft to stop selling Word in the U.S. is digging its heels in for a David vs. Goliath showdown.

I4i, a Toronto-based software maker, has been battling Microsoft over an obscure patent related to XML, or Extensible Markup Language. XML is a key software component of many websites as well as Word and other programs.

Judge Leonard Davis ruled Tuesday in favor of i4i, and ordered Microsoft to cease Word sales in 60 days. He also ordered the world's largest software maker to pay several hefty fines to i4i, including $200 million in damages and $40 million in "enhanced damages.

"It's not a question of fear or pride or anything else," says Loudon Owen, chairman of i4i. "We're very respectful of Microsoft, but when you're in the right you have to persevere."

Microsoft plans to appeal. "We are disappointed by the court's ruling," spokesman Kevin Kutz said in a written statement. " We believe the evidence clearly demonstrated that we do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid."
FIND MORE STORIES IN: Microsoft | Research In Motion

The suit involves a patent i4i's founders obtained in 1998 that is the basis for a "customized XML" tool the company supplies to drug and defense companies and other large corporations, Owen says.

XML is a specialized alphabet that can capture any kind of computer file as a regular text. It's designed to make computer data human-readable — and make it easier for one program to load and process data created by another program. (...)

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2009-08-12-microsoft-...
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EvolveOrConvolve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-12-09 06:24 PM
Response to Original message
1. i4i is one of those vulture companies
that create vague and nebulous patents that they then use to extort money out of large corporations. I don't feel very sorry for Microsoft most of the time, but this time they got hit by one of the extortionists. Hell, if this lawsuit is anything to go on, half of the software projects I've worked on in the last ten years have been copyright infringements. XML is an an open technology that as far as I know patented by anyone and is unpatentable.

If the judgment holds up, the next time you buy a Microsoft product, a dollar or two is going to be going directly into i4i's pocket.
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RoyGBiv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-12-09 07:00 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Agreed ...

I'm really torn here. Given the behavior of Microsoft on on OpenDocument format, it's very hard to feel sorry for them. Actually, I don't feel sorry for them at all, but neither am I a hypocrite.

This decision cannot be allowed to stand, and I'm actually going to swallow my tongue and say I'm glad a company with the bucks of MS is the one that will be fighting it.

And just because I want to say it, the reporter in this story is incredibly ignorant. He could have found a better definition of XML on wikipedia.

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EvolveOrConvolve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-12-09 10:45 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. It makes me wonder exactly how much the judge understands from a technical standpoint
Copying an idea in the software world is a practice nearly as old as the industry itself. Even Steve Jobs and Woz stole the idea of a windowed graphical interface from the Xerox PARC project (although the Mac true-believers probably won't admit it). If Microsoft stole the source code and used it in their own implementation, then i4i would have every reason in the world to sue for as much money as they're due.

Unfortunately, I think the judge is probably pretty ignorant of the inner workings of software development companies. There's no doubt in my mind that this case won't work out in i4i's favor in the long run. Why piss off Goliath?
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pokerfan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-12-09 08:56 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. Well Microsoft claims it invented the command line interface
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Duer 157099 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-12-09 07:35 PM
Response to Original message
3. Word n/t
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charlie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-12-09 10:05 PM
Response to Original message
5. XML is a "specialized alphabet"?
My hopes that a newspaper, for once, didn't assign the guy who handles the lifestyle and cooking beat, are dashed.

The heart of the case sounds like plain old idea theft:
Cawley says that i4i demonstrated its product to Microsoft in 2001. Instead of buying it, i4i contended, Microsoft proceeded to simply incorporate a similar function of its own (i4i did not accuse Microsoft of copying its code or product).

What does Cawley think won the case for i4i? "Probably Microsoft's internal e-mails showing they knew about i4i's patent and chose to make i4i's product obsolete," he says.

http://thepriorart.typepad.com/the_prior_art/2009/05/i4...

Looking at their patent application:

http://www.google.com/patents?id=y8UkAAAAEBAJ&printsec=...

http://www.google.com/patents?id=y8UkAAAAEBAJ&dq=578744...

it's disturbingly generic. Separation of architecture from content, and generation of "metacode" for manipulation. That's it. That's a description of the DOM. Maybe even CSS. And who knows what else? These guys are in a position to become serious patent trolls if they want to be. I hope someone reminds them SCO went an inch too far and wound up bankrupt.

I don't understand what the "customized XML" foofaraw is all about. What XML isn't customized? The USPTO isn't allowing people to patent schemas, are they? Please say they aren't.

Here's an ironic twist, the US Patent Office is one of i4i's biggest customers:

http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/473021
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Why Syzygy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-12-09 10:18 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. LOL!
My hopes that a newspaper, for once, didn't assign the guy who handles the lifestyle and cooking beat, are dashed.
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charlie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-12-09 10:49 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Almost every article
in a mainstream rag has a "tell" that indicates the reporter doesn't fully grasp what he's writing about. I wind up having to regard them like Wikipedia, good for an overview, but not reliable without verfication. It's really annoying when I run off half-cocked -- more than usual, anyway -- with bad information from a source that ought to know better (but I read it in Time!).
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RoyGBiv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-12-09 11:23 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. This is where my boss gets it ...

I think I just figured it out.

Every third Tuesday, she comes up with some off-the-wall scheme of something she wants to do with our website and throws it at me (when I became our website editor, I have no idea) not in a "is this possible, and if so, how do we do it" sort of way, but as a "do it yesterday" dictum.

The latest is her desire to have a real-time weather radar pop up automatically during a severe weather warning.

Never mind that the only thing I am authorized to do by our CMS is edit html and add some trivial javascript. Never mind that I'm a glorified accountant, NOT a web developer. Never mind all that.

I remember now having read some article in the local paper about a local television station's preparations for its website along with hurricane season. They'll basically be emulating Weather Underground on the front page during severe weather, but the way the article was written, it made it sound like you were going to have access to the shiny red buttons on the Doppler radar panel and be able to direct the beam at whatever section of the sky you desired.

Sorry ... tangent.


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charlie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-12-09 11:47 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. Oh, lovely
On top of the nonsense that comes with just doing your job, you get to amass webdev stories. Mollifying capricious pinheads who think -- it goes on the screen and you click it, what's the problem? They're fun stories to tell, murderous to endure.

They make me think of a Python skit, where the hospital staff jams every stray piece of equipment into an operating room, because a poobah is coming by for a tour. He strolls through with officious bearing, then notes with approval, "Ah. I see you've got the machine that goes PING. Very good."

I feel for you, Roy. I hope the lady doesn't throw tantrums too often when she can't get the machine that goes PING. (And stuff some garlic and henbane into your desk. Maybe it'll keep the open-source-is-communism guy at bay)
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RoyGBiv Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-13-09 12:09 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. Get the most expensive machine ...

... in case the administrator comes.

THAT'S HER!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arCITMfxvEc

I'll survive. I mostly ignore her when she comes up with this stuff. She thankfully has ADD as well.

Plus, she can't navigate the approval system for the pages I actually do, which means she has to get the real web dev guy to do it for her. (She thinks I don't know this, but he always calls me to ask for a translation of what she's just said to him.) She's not his boss, so he just tells her to get bent when she explains her latest grand idea.

He and I figured out together that the best way to send her off in another direction is to corner her and start talking, using nothing but developer lingo. We don't even have to make any sense. It confuses her so much, she gets a sick headache and wanders off.

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charlie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-13-09 12:44 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. Have I declared my enduring love for YouTube this week?
I'll do it again anyway. YouTube is an undeserved gift from the Innernet Gods. I haven't seen that in ages! I've got some quality time with Mr Creosote and leg-eating tigers to look forward to.

I'm glad to hear she can be deterred. Thwartable bosses are good, especially when they're too out of it to realize it's happening.
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