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The Courts Government Microsoft News

Judgement Against Microsoft Declares XML Editing Software To Be Worth $98? 230

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the swing-and-a-miss dept.
Many people have written to tell us about the patent infringement lawsuit that resulted in a $200 million judgement against Microsoft by a small Toronto firm called i4i. Techdirt has a line on the details of the suit where the patent in question is for "separating the manipulation of content from the architecture of the document." i4i argues that this covers basic XML editing to the tune of $98 per application. "It's quite troubling that doing something as simple as adding an XML editor should infringe on a patent, but what's even more troubling is that the court somehow ruled that such an editor was worth $98 in the copies of Microsoft Word where it was used. An XML editor. $98. And people say patent awards aren't out of sync with reality?"
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Judgement Against Microsoft Declares XML Editing Software To Be Worth $98?

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  • by Jurily (900488) <jurily&gmail,com> on Friday May 29, 2009 @04:20PM (#28144085)

    Aren't all the ODF documents just XML documents?

    No, they're compressed XML documents.

    How much does Open Office have to pay for each download?

    If this ruling stands for them too, still nothing. They just won't let you download in the US. Free Software has no jurisdiction.

  • by Fantom42 (174630) on Friday May 29, 2009 @04:24PM (#28144139)

    http://www.google.com/patents?id=y8UkAAAAEBAJ&dq=5787449 [google.com]

    I have no idea what this patent is saying.

    Abstract:

    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. A map of metacodes found in the document is produced and provided and stored separately from the document. The map indicates the location and addresses of metacodes in the document. The system allows of multiple views of the same content, the ability to work solely on structure and solely on content, storage efficiency of multiple versions and efficiency of operation.

    It sounds a bit like an embedded XSLT, more or less. Maybe?

  • by CajunArson (465943) on Friday May 29, 2009 @04:30PM (#28144193) Journal

    Please reference one case where Microsoft was plaintiff in the Eastern District of Texas (where Marshall resides) and won some huge award... I'm not holding my breath.
    P.S. --> A plaintiff is the party that brings a case, Microsoft was the defendant in this case. Under Federal rules of civil procedure, plaintiff has a choice of forum (assuming there is personal jurisdiction and venue, but MS conducts business in all 50 states, and venue is often pretty easy to manufacture as well).

  • by Tihstae (86842) <Tihstae@gmail.com> on Friday May 29, 2009 @04:45PM (#28144365) Homepage

    Anyone ever realize that maybe Texas should succeed?

    I bet Texas already thinks they are successful. Did you mean secede? http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/secede [merriam-webster.com]

  • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Friday May 29, 2009 @04:47PM (#28144387) Homepage

    I can reference another Marshall case where they were a defendant:

    http://www.shvoong.com/internet-and-technologies/gaming/1875809-microsoft-settles-lawsuit-xbox/ [shvoong.com]

  • Re:Filed in 1994 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 29, 2009 @05:31PM (#28144851)
    If you were to decide to consider allowing your eyes to accept light emitted from your screen after having navigated to a site where details of the case were located and then allowed your sensory equipment to interpret the light patterns in accordance to the conventions of the English language, you might find that i4i demonstrated its technology to Microsoft in 2001 with the hopes of licensing it for use in Microsoft Word. Microsoft declined, but with office 2003, they offered the same capabilities as that which i4i tried to license them. The case was filed in 2007, so it took them like 3-4 years to sue. There were also some emails they found that microsoft was discussing i4i and their patent prior to adding the office 2003 functionality.

    So Basically the company was able to present evidence that Microsoft intentionally reviewed, and then disregarded the patent and implemented the same feature as the patent holder tried to sell them. That probably didn't sit very well with the jury. Microsoft should have been a good citizen and tried to strike down the ridiculous patent, rather than just ignore it and hope for the best.
  • Re:Filed in 1994 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 29, 2009 @05:56PM (#28145119)

    Anyhow, the patent is regarding "separating the manipulation of content from the architecture of the document." That's so hopelessly vague it's not even a joke.

    The patent claims (which define the scope of the patent) are easier to read after going through the specification a bit more closely. This patent is about a particular method of encoding structured data.

    Consider the example (given in the patent) of <Chapter><Title>The Secret Life of Data</Title><Para>Data is hostile. </Para>The End</Chapter>. Typical parsers would encode this as some kind of tree.

    This patent teaches coding it by creating a "Metacode Map" with six elements encoded as {Element Number, Element, Character Position}: ({1, <Chapter&gt, 0}, {2, <Title>, 0}, {3, </Title>, 23}, {4, <Para>, 23}, {5, </Para>, 23}, {6, </Chapter>, 46}). The content is then stored separately as one long strong: "The Secret Life ofDataData is hostile. The End"

    I haven't read the claims closely enough to say whether they are consistent with the teachings of the patent, but it does seem to be narrower than simply editing XML (or SGML). I also suspect that there aren't a whole lot of infringers since this is an unusual way encoding marked up language. Does Word do this? The jury though so, but the code is all under seal, so it is a bit difficult to check out independently.

  • by CrossCompiler (69816) on Friday May 29, 2009 @06:09PM (#28145235)

    Two minor points.

    #1 The patent application is from 1994. The example in the patent looks like the same early-XML format used by Ventura, a desktop publishing program released in 1986 by Xerox (and subsequently purchased by Corel). The general idea and much of the exact format was borrowed from expensive, proprietary computerized typesetting equipment that was popular in the 70's.

    #2: The person who "examined" the patent, a Jankus; Almis R, is now a patent [patents.com] agent [uspto.gov]. I'm no longer amazed at how often bad patent applications are approved by law students, future patent attorneys and/or agents.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 29, 2009 @06:23PM (#28145337)

    There's a bit of a gap between 'holds all of their prosecuting cases' and 'here is a case where they were the defendant'.

    Also, if what CajunArson writes is correct, it was the plaintiff that chose Marshall and not Microsoft.

    Damned if you do, dam... oh wait, just 'damned if you are Microsoft, to hell with facts'.

  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Friday May 29, 2009 @06:47PM (#28145559) Homepage

    Texas? You mean the state of Marshall, TX [overlawyered.com] where Microsoft (and everyone else who wants to win) holds all of its prosecuting patent cases? I do believe Microsoft may be getting a taste of its own medicine

    What do you mean by "all of its"? Do you know how many software patent cases Microsoft has been the plaintiff in before the TomTom case? Zero. (And BTW, Texas was convenient for TomTom, as that's where they have filed many of their suits against competing GPS companies).

    Oh, and defendants have been winning more than plaintiffs in the Eastern District of Texas since early 2007.

  • by rossjudson (97786) on Friday May 29, 2009 @09:58PM (#28146669) Homepage

    Since I am bored, I read it.

    "I am a <b>sentence</b>."

    The patent say, bad! Horrible! Instead, use content + "metacode map":

    "I am a sentence."

    +

    chars 0-7 : normal
    chars 7-15: bold
    chars 15-16: normal

    This is somehow supposed to be dramatically better in every way. Every frickin memory structure ever invented to edit any kind of structured text did this first and did it better.

    I'm quite surprised that anyone would ever be found in violation of this "patent", because it's a pretty stupid thing to do.

  • by edittard (805475) on Saturday May 30, 2009 @04:11AM (#28148119)

    As any lawyer will tell you, don't go after the guilty - go after the ones with the deepest pockets.

"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." -- John Wooden

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