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Federal Court Grants Microsoft Expedited Appeal 88

Posted by samzenpus
from the the-train-keeps-a-rolling dept.
patentpundit writes "On Friday, August 21, 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit granted Microsoft an expedited appeal of its patent infringement loss to i4i Limited Partnership. On August 11, 2009, Microsoft lost a $300 million judgment for infringing the XML patents of i4i by selling Word. Microsoft was given 60 days to stop selling Word, or implement work arounds that did not utilize the infringed technology. Microsoft filed an emergency appeal with the Federal Circuit, and requested a stay of the permanent injunction that will force them to stop selling work 60 days from August 11, 2009. The Federal Circuit granted an expedited oral argument, which will take place on September 23, 2009. Microsoft requested an administrative stay of the permanent injunction, which was denied, and then filed a petition to stay the injunction pending appeal. i4i has until August 25, 2009, to respond to Microsoft's request to stay the injunction pending appeal."
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Federal Court Grants Microsoft Expedited Appeal

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  • they might help reform the patent system

    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @07:58AM (#29154915) Homepage Journal

      In this case, they've been trying to do everything but. So far, their defense strategy has been to attempt to paint i4i as a patent troll who never had a product, and therefore should not have been granted a patent. That's kind of silly considering that i4i actually does have a product, and if you look at the screenshot on this page describing one of their products [i4i.com], it's apparent that they have had an implementation of their patent for quite a while (Word 2000 is pictured).

      So far, they haven't actually attacked the patent because doing so might invalidate one or more of their own patents. They haven't attacked the patent system or any patent laws not only because they have considerable resources invested in that patent system, but because any change in the patent system really needs to happen at the legislative level and it really isn't likely that a court is going to invalidate the entire patent system.

      As much as I'd like to see Microsoft directly attack the patent system itself and fight for patent reform, I just don't think it's going to happen in a court room, and I don't see Microsoft fighting a system in earnest that they have profited so much from.

      And I don't blame them. It isn't up to them to bring about patent reform. It's ultimately up to We, The People.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It isn't up to them to bring about patent reform.

        So M$ is owned and run by aliens now?

        They are people and have just as much responsibility as anybody to try and fix the system. More so because they have financial clout and the ears of legislature.

        Or to put it another way: being part of a company doesn't give the people involved a mystical get-out-of-jail free card to be irresponsible or unethical.

        • by MrNaz (730548) * on Saturday August 22, 2009 @08:24AM (#29154997) Homepage

          "Or to put it another way: being part of a company doesn't give the people involved a mystical get-out-of-jail free card to be irresponsible or unethical."

          I disagree. We, the people of the west, have allowed our governments and corporations to turn the ideals of free market action into an unholy marriage between all three arms of government and the powerful elite of the private sector. We have allowed powerful members of industry and government to usurp the right to do anything they want, so long as they can afford lawyers to justify their actions, ethical or otherwise. Don't like it? Sorry, it's a two party system, and both parties play the same game. You want real change? Sorry, you won't get it by voting.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Don't like it? Sorry, it's a two party system, and both parties play the same game. You want real change? Sorry, you won't get it by voting.

            Ever heard of the 1960s? We got real change then, and what it required was grass roots efforts.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by SBrach (1073190)
              I prefer the (apparently temporary) results of the grass root efforts of the 70's..............the 1770's.
          • "Or to put it another way: being part of a company doesn't give the people involved a mystical get-out-of-jail free card to be irresponsible or unethical."

            I disagree. We, the people of the west, have allowed our governments and corporations to turn the ideals of free market action into an unholy marriage between all three arms of government and the powerful elite of the private sector. We have allowed powerful members of industry and government to usurp the right to do anything they want, so long as they can afford lawyers to justify their actions, ethical or otherwise. Don't like it? Sorry, it's a two party system, and both parties play the same game.

            The west != the US. Though I feel your pain and would like for you to have a more citizen-influenced system, it is good to know that there are countries with systems that do give that.

        • by dkleinsc (563838)

          Or to put it another way: being part of a company doesn't give the people involved a mystical get-out-of-jail free card to be irresponsible or unethical.

          Oh really?
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_veil [wikipedia.org]

      • by BeanThere (28381) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @10:14AM (#29155481)

        i4i may have 'a product', but really isn't anything particularly incredible ... it's basically just XML authoring via parsed-back transformed output. Whoopty-do - this is something quite basic and that could and should become commonplace in many, many different applications in future. A 'product' does not make a patent-able invention. Microsoft may be abusing the system, but i4i is worse, they're still behaving like a blatant patent troll, probably because their 'product' just isn't special anymore. We're just talking about a fight between two unethical companies ... much as I can't stand Microsoft, i4i is even worse here - they're actually *doing* what Microsoft so far has only had the veiled threat of doing via their patents.

        Now the real problem with all this (as well as MS's own patents on XML-based word processing) is that it has destroyed the entire purpose of XML. XML was adopted by industry as a counter-measure to the many proprietary binary "lock-in" formats of the 80s and 90s. Initially it seemed like it was going to serve this purpose, but XML is now so ridiculously over-encumbered with bogus, obvious patents that it's impossible to create any "serious" useful new XML-based applications without infringing patents. In other words, industry has succeeded in making XML the "new" proprietary lock-in format.

        MS and i4i will both continue to make reams of money relative to their sizes. The real losers here are the general public, customers of the IT industry, and potential small-business competitors/entrepreneurs.

        Time for a new "XML"? This time, with a stipulation in the licensing that no patents may be made over the format.

        • Poetic justice (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Xenographic (557057)

          Well, to be fair, Microsoft didn't just come up with customXML on its own, they "partnered" with i4i, learned all about their product, then copied what they wanted from it and shafted i4i. While I do NOT like software patents and think they should be abolished, I'm not really going to defend Microsoft here. They're getting a bit of poetic justice, IMHO.

          Granted, I would like this lawsuit to instead concern whatever contracts Microsoft had with i4i instead of patent law (claims which aren't worth pursuing w

          • by BeanThere (28381)

            But as long as they do exist, I can think of nothing better to happen than for their biggest proponents to get shafted by one of the patents.

            The problem is that even when companies like MS get "shafted" by the patent system, they still overall come out ahead by using and abusing that system - and as long as they overall come out ahead (and they will - like I said, I'm sure both MS and i4i will make truckloads of money in the coming years), then they remain satisfied with the system, and the public continues to lose.

            In fact, it's nothing new for big companies like MS to get "shafted" by this system --- consider, for example, the reason that Micro

            • [IJ Reilly macrumors 603 Join Date: Jul 2002 Location: Palookaville The $150 million investment was a part of the settlement of a long-running patent dispute between Apple and Microsoft. It's not really known for certain when or even if Microsoft sold the shares, but it seems likely that they divested them at their earliest opportunity. The $4 billion figure was I believe roughly Apple's market capitalization in 1997. They had about $1.2 billion cash on hand at the time.] - I was under the impression t
      • And I don't blame them. It isn't up to them to bring about patent reform. It's ultimately up to We, The People.

        The problem is that We (Most of) The People don't have a clue on why this should matter to us.

  • cynical (Score:1, Insightful)

    Why do I get the feeling that MS will find a way to weasel out of this? They seem to have been caught directly lifting code from someone else's stuff who was relying on that to make money and putting it into their own. No uncertainty, no sympathy -- This is a classic Embrance, Extend, Extinguish move for which they are famous. It's premature to say justice has failed (again!) so maybe I'm just being cynical but history has taught me that might makes right in the U.S. and too often in the courts the winne
    • Re:cynical (Score:4, Informative)

      by hansraj (458504) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @07:20AM (#29154817)

      They seem to have been caught directly lifting code from someone else's stuff who was relying on that to make money and putting it into their own.

      They have been accused of patent-infringement. That means that even the patent holders aren't accusing MS of stealing code directly. Had that been the case, MS would have been accused of copyright infringement as well.

      Muddying the differences between patents, copyright, and trademark is part of the reason why debates about "intellectual property" is often confused.

      • Re:cynical (Score:5, Informative)

        by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:06AM (#29155159)

        They have been accused of patent-infringement.

        First, they have been found GUILTY of willful patent infringement, not just accused. Second, if you would actually take the time to read about what MS did [theglobeandmail.com] instead of giving a knee-jerk reaction "Ooh patents are bad!" and comprehend it, you'll see that MS approached i4i about working together on national security issues and then STOLE THEIR CODE.

        Muddying the differences between patents, copyright, and trademark is part of the reason why debates about "intellectual property" is often confused.

        The only person muddying the waters here is you, because you are trying to paint MS' actions in a decent light, when they are clearly, clearly in the wrong. I can only think that i4i went to court under patent law instead of copyright infringement because they thought it was a more open and shut case. That or, the MS Office programmers were smart enough to cover their tracks and that copyright infringement wasn't possible to prove unequivocally.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by hansraj (458504)

          No need to jump on my throat, pal. Had my reaction been knee-jerk, it would have had a bit more emotional outburst.

          First, they have been found GUILTY of willful patent infringement, not just accused.

          I stand corrected.

          you'll see that MS approached i4i about working together on national security issues and then STOLE THEIR CODE.

          I didn't really see that claim in the article you linked to. I might have missed it though as I didn't read it thoroughly. The closest thing to stealing anything, as mentioned in the article, was about MS "pinching the technology".

          The only person muddying the waters here is you, because you are trying to paint MS' actions in a decent light, when they are clearly, clearly in the wrong.

          You are reading too much into what I wrote. Nowhere did I hint that the actions of MS were justified. Hell, I didn't even hint that patents were a b

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They didn't lift code from i4i. It appears you can't see past your hatred of Microsoft.

      Oh wait, this is Slashdot.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kilz (741999)

        They didn't lift code from i4i. It appears you can't see past your hatred of Microsoft. Oh wait, this is Slashdot.

        Your right this is slashdot, also home to some of the worlds biggest Microsoft fanboy's, and/or possibly astoturfers.
        What you missed in all this was that you are confusing Copyright and a patent. So here is where you are going off.
        1. Patents cover ideas.
        2. Copyrights cover the specific use of language.

        To infringe on a patent you do not have to copy anything but the idea. It doesn't matt

        • Re:cynical (Score:4, Informative)

          by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:48AM (#29155375)
          To infringe on a patent, you do not even have to copy the idea. You an independently invent the same system, and that would still be patent infringement.
          • by Kilz (741999)

            Thats an even more complex explanation of patent vs copyright. I seriously doubt those that cant even get that patents dont cover words will get that. I was trying to explain that patents cover, say for the sake of explaining, the idea of a scrollbar in a browser, vs the way its coded. Not that thats what this patents covered.

            • by maharb (1534501)

              That is misleading. Patents do not just cover random ideas. I can't just patent teleporters right now because I thought of them. Generally the methodology behind how the system works is what is patented so that other similar ideas can still be generated without violating patents. So patents are about the 'code' or methodology used to accomplish something, not just the idea. In order to patent a teleporter I would need to patent a specific way of teleportation and if someone else came up with a differen

              • by Kilz (741999)

                That depends on the wording of the patent. If I use consists of, yes specific things need to be there. If I use includes, it may only be one of the things I describe. Also patents on mechanical devices are quite different in there requirements that software or business patents. A device would indeed cover a specific "thing" needed to implement an idea. But in software specific coding is not needed. For that we have copyright, there is no copyright for devices.
                Dont think I am for patents, or giving a all inc

      • Why does anybody reply except to say "you dumbass"?
    • by argent (18001) <peter@nospAM.slashdot.2006.taronga.com> on Saturday August 22, 2009 @07:41AM (#29154859) Homepage Journal

      This is a patent case. A software patent case. A software patent *is* a dirty trick, and the target of the dirty trick in this case is Microsoft.

      Haven't you ever seen one of those movies where the villains fall out with each other and there's a shootout in the hideout? Just because Microsoft's got a bad track record with software patents that doesn't mean the other guy isn't ALSO scum.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @08:08AM (#29154935)

        They partnered with i4i until they learned enough about the code, then kicked i4i in the butt and came out with their own implementation.
        This is worse than when M$ accuses Wine/Samba etc for 'cloning' their products.
        Wine/Samba etc coders didn't have the chance to READ and STUDY the original code.

        • by the_arrow (171557) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @08:59AM (#29155121) Homepage

          They partnered with i4i until they learned enough about the code, then kicked i4i in the butt and came out with their own implementation.

          Ah, the standard Microsoft behavior.

          • Seriously. Given how often Microsoft has done this, it's hard to be sympathetic with the victims. Do they honestly think it's going to be different this time?
        • by argent (18001)

          They partnered with i4i until they learned enough about the code, then kicked i4i in the butt and came out with their own implementation.

          ORLY. Got a link? All of the stories about this I've found read like it's just another patent troll incident.

        • by Anpheus (908711)

          Or they worked with i4i long enough to realize their patent was pretty thoroughly covered by prior art, considering their "invention" is a method of separating data from metadata describing the formatting, styling, etc, of the data.

          It looks like if this patent holds up, they could hold the online world at gunpoint and demand everyone who uses CSS to pay up. I'm sure OpenOffice applies too, because it supports XML based styling and the like.

          The really, really funny thing about this case is it has brought out

          • by tsm_sf (545316)
            You're confusing "software patent" and "patent troll" for some reason. They have a legitimate product, therefore they aren't patent trolling. Patent trolling is when you buy someone else's patent and then sue people doing actual work. They do have a software patent, and software patents are generally seen as harmful to society at large here on /. They are correctly playing the game against an opponent known for cheating, but the game itself is suspect.

            Clearer?
            • by Anpheus (908711)

              They are a patent troll because:

              (a.) It's obvious to an expert in the craft. People have been executing this patent's claims for years.
              (b.) It's a software patent.
              (c.) There is tremendous prior art.

              • by tsm_sf (545316)
                All of those things are problems with software patents, but the term "patent troll" refers to someone who only holds patents and does not create or manufacture anything with them.
  • Live by the sword, die by the sword. M$ has been working towards world domination using patents and monopoly power. Google is usurping the monopoly position, and others are swarming like insects around a dying carcass with respect to software patents. What goes around, comes around.....
    • by hairyfeet (841228) <.bassbeast1968. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday August 22, 2009 @08:54AM (#29155095) Journal

      That's like saying its okay to rob somebody, as long as its somebody you don't like. Software Patents are bullshit-simple as that. They are bullshit when they are used by the big boys like MSFT and IBM, and they are just as much bullshit when they are used by smaller companies like i4i. Saying its fine and dandy because its MSFT getting screwed this time is like saying "you really shouldn't mug anybody, unless its that guy down the street. he's an asshole."

      The giant minefield that is the current USA copyrights and patents system is about as fucked up and as far removed from the Founding Fathers original purpose as one could possibly get. They were originally designed to allow the little guy to make enough off of his inventions that he could continue to invent and innovate without fear of being ripped off the second his first device rolled out the door. Now they are just a tax upon all of us with the proceeds going to the top. So I'm sorry, but saying ripping off someone by going to East Texas (Patent troll capital USA) where the juries are known for not having a clue and passing out crazy judgments is okay just because it is someone you hate doesn't make it right. It is that kind of attitude that has gotten this country in the mess we are in, with so many willing to vote for somebody that will screw them as long as they screw those the voter hates worse.

  • i4i (Score:2, Funny)

    by Atmchicago (555403)
    Sounds like i4i went for the "tooth for a tooth" strategy. Microsoft should have been suspicious all along :-)
  • by pseudonomous (1389971) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @10:41AM (#29155675)
    The only possible good thing that can come from this suit will be if i4i wins, and Microsoft has to stop selling word for some period of time (I assume they'll release a non-infringing version ASAP) and then 'normal' people will actually realize that software patents are stupid, massively inconveniant, and stiffling innovation in software. Understand that this goes beyond the normal shadenfreude I have for whenever bad stuff happens to Microsoft, the patents invollved in this case are ridiculous, but are perfectly inline with other software patents granted to Apple, Microsoft, IBM, etc. The whole patent system needs massive reform, and pressure for that has to come from the general public, the software giants, (Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Oracle, etc.) have way too much invested in the current system to ever challenge it; even when they're found guilty of infringement in one of thier flagship products.
    • Well, Microsoft has apparently threatened to stop selling Microsoft Office entirely [dailytech.com], if the patent is allowed to stand.

      That'd be an interesting gambit.

      "We broke the rules, didn't adhere to the law, we're too big to fail so now the government has to step in and allow us to break the rules anyway. You know - like all the banks."

  • Everything coming out of East Texas should be granted an expedited appeal.

    If there was ever a reason to allow Texas to leave the union it is because of the far out of the norm patent case decisions coming out of that East Texas district court.

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