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Microsoft Patents The Courts Your Rights Online

Microsoft Word Patent Case Going To Supreme Court 207

Posted by Soulskill
from the eye-for-an-eye dept.
jfruhlinger writes "Microsoft may have had to change Word after being found guilty of violating a Canadian company's patents, but it's still resisting paying for damages — and is taking the fight to the US Supreme Court. If you can't stand either MS or patents, who do you root for here?"
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Microsoft Word Patent Case Going To Supreme Court

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  • Well, duh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Slarty (11126) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @01:27AM (#34384880) Homepage

    You root for Microsoft, of course. If you don't like Microsoft, you can choose not to use their software. But everyone is affected by the ridiculous state of the patent system right now. I'm not optimistic that the Supreme Court can/will restore any sanity, but it's a much bigger problem than any one company.

  • Who to root for? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by repetty (260322) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @01:45AM (#34385006) Homepage

    If you can't stand either MS or patents, who do you root for here?

    Just be satisfied that each has to deal with the other.

  • Emotions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bonch (38532) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @01:46AM (#34385012)

    If you can't stand either MS or patents, who do you root for here?

    "Which position do your biased emotions tell you to take?"

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @01:48AM (#34385038) Journal
    Hope that MS loses to a multi-billion dollar lose (say even 100 billion), and that afterwards, either SCOTUS or CONgress will kill forever the evil method patents.
  • Re:Well, duh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by santax (1541065) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @01:51AM (#34385056)
    So, you root for the biggest patentwhore ever?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @01:52AM (#34385068)

    Not directly going after other companies, but number 235 comes to mind...

  • by eldepeche (854916) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @01:53AM (#34385070)

    Microsoft has more to gain from the destruction of the system of software patents than anyone. Already being in the dominant position in market share, they would be free to implement any good ideas from other pieces of software, and Windows and Windows Server and Office and all their other products would be able to concentrate on features. They would save a ton of money from their legal department and could reallocate that to their development staff. With as much code as they have, I would bet they could technically infringe on the largest number of patents.

  • by MoxFulder (159829) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:23AM (#34385240) Homepage

    Opponents of software patents should root for Microsoft here, regardless of how you feel about the company (I loathe their philosophy but like a few of their products).

    Believing in justice means believing it applies even to your enemies and opponents. Besides, we don't want the Supreme Court setting some awful pro-software-patent precedent that will haunt less-deep-pocketed open-source developers down the road.

  • by sgrover (1167171) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @02:47AM (#34385394) Homepage
    And how many times has it been said here that a Patent abstract is not the definition of the patent. You need to look at the actual claims of the patent to find if there is anything real about the claim. If the patent were obvious or had prior art, don't you think MS would have brought that up in the original court case and tried to invalidate the patent? They didn't, so it might be safe to assume this patent actually is the real thing. Afterall, it has survived a not just one court appearance, but an appeal as well.
  • by quadrox (1174915) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @03:09AM (#34385556)

    I can list you plenty of reasons for fighting and boycotting Microsoft. Google? You'd have to help me out there.

    The only thing I'm really aware of being a problem with google is the collection of personal information. But there's a simple solution to that: don't use google/use it wisely.

    For MS there is no workaround. They are and have been keeping the software industry and community back. With MS there is no choice but to fight them in every which way that is possible. It's them or us.

  • by sjames (1099) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @03:24AM (#34385642) Homepage

    There's too many opposing principles at work here. I can only hope the entire system explodes in a big boggle, but I doubt it.

    On one side, patents as implemented are wrong so MS deserves to prevail.

    On the other, prevailing due to having deep pockets when someone without would lose is wrong. Justice only exists when it extends to all. If you or I would lose here, so should MS.

  • by LocalH (28506) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @03:25AM (#34385656) Homepage

    Your entire post is false and tantamount to flamebait. Destroying software patents would not allow someone to copy MS code verbatim and only change branding. That would still be covered under copyright. The abolition (or weakening) of software patents would only mean that other teams can create, from scratch, implementations of previously patented software without worrying about the fact that the patent shouldn't even exist because there exists prior art back 10 or 20 years.

  • by euroq (1818100) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @03:33AM (#34385722)
    OK, I looked at the actual claims of the patent. What I4I has basically done is patented XML, or at least the use of XML.
    http://www.google.com/patents?id=y8UkAAAAEBAJ&printsec=description&zoom=4#v=onepage&q&f=false [google.com]

    SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION It is an object of the present invention to provide an improved method of encoding a document It is a further object of the present invention to provide an improved system of encoding a document. Thus, in sharp contrast to the prior art the present invention is based on the practice of separating encoding conventions from the content of a document. The invention does not use embedded metacoding to differentiate the content of the document, but rather, the metacodes of the document are separated from the content and held in distinct storage in a structure called a metacode map. whereas document content is held in a mapped content area. Raw content is an extreme example of mapped content wherein the latter is totally unstructured and has no embedded metacodes in the data stream.

    What they have done is taken the prior existing technology XML, and patented using it in a document to describe how some text is bold, or what the document title is. Fuck that, that is the most obvious use of XML, it's a textbook example of XML. These guys would never make $290 million off of their "invention" which they didn't invent.

    Also, I don't believe the fact that the courts didn't invalidate the software patent indicates, by any stretch of the means, that the patent should be a valid patent. That's why everyone here generally doesn't hate patents, they just hate software patents. People patent obvious things and our courts buy it. Regardless of where you stand on the matter of if it hurts the big guy or the little guy, it is an incredible injustice to be able to patent obvious things, which many software patents actually are.

  • by thunderclap (972782) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @03:37AM (#34385738)
    Justice hasn't existed for 110 yrs now. I just want fairness.
  • Re:First (Score:3, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @03:57AM (#34385848) Journal
    I'm going to regard that first post not as a Troll, but as finely crafted satire on the Slashdot groupthink. Seriously, if there's anything trollish here, it's the summary itself. Corporations are not football teams. You don't slavishly follow a brand or a company and excuse it when it behaves badly or condemn it even when it does good. What sort of moron does that make you?

    Software patents are damaging and a barrier to entry which reduces competition. If Microsoft (which is a huge organization of people, not a gestalt entity, and thus more than capable of being good in some ways and bad in others), if Microsoft make moves which helps shoot down stupid patents, then that's a good thing.

    If you're going to "root" for anything, you root for right action, regardless of whether it's done by sinners or saints (and most are both).
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @04:39AM (#34386044) Journal
    The only thing I'm really aware of being a problem with google is the collection of personal information. But there's a simple solution to that: don't use google/use it wisely.

    Google analytics is on just anout every web page. The cookie is kept forever. Most users aren't even aware of this sort of thing so "use it wisely" isn't useful advice. They keep information *forever*. They decided to completely ignore copyright and disrespect the authors opinions by indexing every book, then going behind the authors' backs and presenting Google Book search as a fait accompli in order to improve their bargaining position. Google is in a position to punish websites without giving a reason. They have been known to do this.

    And Microsoft has a better privacy policy that Google!!!

    Not sure if that all makes Google evil but it does make it worth watching them.
  • Re:First (Score:3, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @05:54AM (#34386348) Journal
    You've broadened it beyond Software Patents which is what I explicitly referred to. That's a different matter. Software can be protected by copyright which is fair. Applying patents usually amounts to saying that only one group is allowed to solve a problem, which is not.

    As regards being able to sell on patents, this is entirely right if the patent itself is right. Certainly they should have a resonable expiry period, but saying that only the person that comes up with an idea is the person who can implement and manage the production of the idea is hugely inefficient and limiting for all parties.
  • Re:Well, duh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gbjbaanb (229885) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @06:01AM (#34386380)

    oh no, this is one of those rare cases where MS is well out of order. They blatently stole the technology developed by i4i, and although I too hate software patents and patent trolls, this time the company is (well, was, until MS destroyed their legit business) in the right.

    That they sell nothing now doesn't mean they weren't a good, small startup company once.

  • by quadrox (1174915) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @06:37AM (#34386522)

    I don't disagree with you at all. All I'm saying is that with google I, as a technical sort of person, have the option to avoid the problems that indeed do exist.

    With MS you cannot avoid the problem. MS continues to fight progress and freedom everywhere, and it will impact everybody sooner or later. MS must be destroyed, there is no alternative.

    With google it is far far from being that bad right now.

  • Re:First (Score:3, Insightful)

    by c6gunner (950153) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @07:06AM (#34386646)

    You don't slavishly follow a brand or a company and excuse it when it behaves badly or condemn it even when it does good.

    Well, you're not supposed to behave that way. However, many people do exactly that. Just look at the Apple / Linux / Microsoft flamewars.

  • by Pinky's Brain (1158667) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @08:13AM (#34386964)

    Any competently designed binary representation of XML (either in memory or on disk) will infringe on their patent.

  • by Grond (15515) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @10:07AM (#34387718) Homepage

    How will this narrow patent law? I don't think that MS is arguing against the patent system. If anything, MS is arguing against this one particular patent. Whatever the outcome, it will have no effect on the patent system, or MS's future behavior.

    That isn't true at all. The issue at the Supreme Court is not this particular patent. The issue is what the burden of proof should be when attempting to prove a patent invalid, particularly when an alleged infringer brings evidence not considered by the Patent Office. The Supreme Court is deciding whether this particular patent is valid or infringed, only the evidentiary question. Microsoft is most certainly arguing against the patent system in the sense that it seeks to change the status quo. If Microsoft is successful, the outcome--a precedent setting Supreme Court decision--will affect the patent system and Microsoft's future behavior.

    Remember, Microsoft is involved in about 50 patent suits at any one time, almost always as a defendant. It's therefore in Microsoft's interest for it to be easier to invalidate questionable patents, and this is an interest shared by a lot of Slashdot readers. And to the extent Microsoft sues others for patent infringement, if patents are easier to invalidate then Microsoft will be more careful about which patents it sues on and which inventions it seeks to patent in the first place.

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