23 December 2009

Court: Microsoft violated patent; can't sell Word - Updates - Fresnobee.com

Court: Microsoft violated patent; can't sell Word - Updates - Fresnobee.com:
SEATTLE -- A federal appeals court ordered Microsoft Corp. to stop selling its Word program in January and pay a Canadian software company $290 million for violating a patent, upholding the judgment of a lower court.

But people looking to buy Word or Microsoft's Office package in the U.S. won't have to go without the software. Microsoft said Tuesday it expects that new versions of the product, with the computer code in question removed, will be ready for sale when the injunction begins on Jan. 11.

Oh well, there's always Open Office.


Chris Hall said...

Or Star Office. Or Lotus Symphony. Or AbiWord.

Unfortunately most people go straight for the big M, although I'm making inroads with my family with regards to using OOo.org

The fine won't alter MS's dubious ways of acquiring software one jot.

Jarred said...

I'd like to offer a quote from a ZDNet article on the topic:

Under the ruling, Davis found that anything that touches custom XML formatting in Word infringes on i4i’s patent.

If this is a true statement, it means that i4i could use this ruling as leverage to demand licensing fees from and sue the maker of any word processor that works with XML files. Dignan notes this and even asks i4i if they plan to pursue lawsuits with any other companies. So this is good reason for even OpenOffice lovers to be concerned. Unless OpenOffice is going to forego ever doing much with XML.

I'll also note that I disagree with the judges ruling as a software engineer. The patent describes a rather specific algorithm (in that sense, I disagree with Dignan), and I think any company could come up with a significantly different algorithm to work with custom XML, which would prevent it from being a violation of this patent. But then, my word won't hold weight in court for the next lawsuit. The judge's ruling will. So I do hope that the ruling is challenged further just on the grounds that what qualifies as a legitimate violation of this patent needs to be narrowed down.

James Higham said...

Microsoft appears to be on the way out.

Your Christmas is presumably January 7th but just in case, Merry Christmas now.


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