4 January 2010

Beware of the spirits that you call: Microsoft hit by a US software patent

According to a verdict issued by a jury at the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas that the US Court of Appeals for the Federal District has affirmed ,

Microsoft Had Infringed A Patent

owned by I4I Limited Partnership and Infrastructures for Information Inc. The patent is with regard to “a method for processing and storing information about the structure of electronic documents”.
In fact the patent covers the editing of documents containing markup languages like XML and claims to improve said editing process. The patent’s essential output is to be found in an “add-on” software for Microsoft Word, which expands Word’s capability to work with documents containing custom XML.

The claimant alleged that the custom XML editor in certain versions of Word infringed their patent.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft employed the

“Attack Is The Best Defence”

strategy in an attempt to seek a declaratory judgment that the patent in suit was invalid and thus unenforceable, but has eventually failed as the jury refused to follow the brought arguments.
Moreover, the jury found not only that the patent was not invalid, but also that Microsoft’s infringement thereof was wilful.

Upon a lengthy discussion on the claim construction, validity and infringement of the claimant’s patent, the Federal Circuit affirmed the District Court’s ruling.

To me the importance of the instant case lies in that Microsoft is now being served by the consequences of a policy they have advocated in the near past. In my view it would have been better, if they had reflected the 1991 Bill Gates’ warning that patents could bring the software market to a complete standstill and drive out small players.

Comments (5)

  1. 12 January 2010

    Seamingly, Microsoft has decided to abide by the ruling of the Federal Circuit. Ars Technica reports (http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2010/01/office-pulled-from-microsoft-store-msdn-technet.ars) that the Redmond company has started to withdraw Office versions from its online store and from download sites for its subscribers.

  2. 4 May 2011

    […] emerged in the last couple of years. NPE v RiM, Software Tree (an Acacia affiliate) v Red Hat or i4i v Microsoft, to mention some. Is this a sign that the software patent cold war is over? Well, not really and […]

  3. 21 July 2011
    Awnings Gauteng said...

    I am not surprised at all. In fact, I am surprised that more of such infringement cases are not brought to courts. Microsoft clearly has a lot of flaws that most people are afraid to bring up. I am glad this case happened.

  4. 29 July 2011

    Karma eventually catches up with you. This is just the climax of the software patent cold war.

  5. 2 October 2011

    Microsoft had more flaws than we know. And who knows how many patents are original and how many are from small software manufacturers.

    Kristine Kim
    Webmasters at Area Measurement Survey

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