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Microsoft hit with $200m patent fine

Microsoft hit with $200m patent fine

Microsoft has been ordered to pay $200 million in damages for infringing on patents owned by Canadian company i4i.

Microsoft has been ordered to pay $200 million in damages for infringing a Canadian company’s patents by a Texan court.

i4i, which creates software for manipulating documents, filed a case against Microsoft in 2007 that claimed the software giant had knowingly infringed on one of i4i’s patents in both Word 2007 and Windows Vista.

The jury decided that the custom XML tagging features in Word and Vista infringed on i4i’s patents – something which the software giant aggressively denied throughout the case.

Microsoft has said it will appeal the verdict. “The evidence clearly demonstrated that we do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid,” said a Microsoft spokesperson. “ We believe this award of damages is legally and factually unsupported, so we will ask the court to overturn the verdict.

This isn’t the only patent infringement legal battle Microsoft is currently fighting, as the company was recently ordered to pay $388 million in damages to anti-piracy software outfit Uniloc Inc. for copyright infringement – a verdict which it is also appealing against.

Microsoft is also readying itself for another hearing with the EU early next month, which will decide whether or not the software giant’s bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows is harming competition.

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25 Comments

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adam_bagpuss 21st May 2009, 15:53 Quote
what happens if MS ships an OS without a browser then.

how do we download another browser to use ???????
steveo_mcg 21st May 2009, 16:03 Quote
Fancy ftp client ?
Tim S 21st May 2009, 16:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
Fancy ftp client ?

Windows Explorer?

Next thing, Microsoft bundling Windows Explorer with Windows harms competition in the FTP client market... :)
AlexB 21st May 2009, 16:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by adam_bagpuss
what happens if MS ships an OS without a browser then.

how do we download another browser to use ???????

Ha ha, I presume nobody has thought of that? I dont see a problem with them bundling IE. Nobody forces you to only use it? Mad.
adam_bagpuss 21st May 2009, 16:11 Quote
FTP client, i guess is an option but for your average joe/jo they need a browser to down load anything and if MS take that away as standard do they need to go get a CD wtih firefox on or chrome lol
steveo_mcg 21st May 2009, 16:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
Windows Explorer?

Next thing, Microsoft bundling Windows Explorer with Windows harms competition in the FTP client market... :)

Actually that wouldn't be a bad idea. Have a "folder" with a list of browsers to download and install.
scarrmrcc 21st May 2009, 16:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveo_mcg
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim S
Windows Explorer?

Next thing, Microsoft bundling Windows Explorer with Windows harms competition in the FTP client market... :)

Actually that wouldn't be a bad idea. Have a "folder" with a list of browsers to download and install.

wouldn't that still be forcing you to choose between just the ones THEY want? i am glad it comes with IE, how else am i supposed to go get firefox? :)
Htr-Labs 21st May 2009, 17:08 Quote
BEHOLD!!!.......The Stupendously Massive IGNORANCE OF OUR JUDICIAL SYSTEM!

now hand me another taco chief
thehippoz 21st May 2009, 17:52 Quote
if your unfortunate enough to write code someone else has already patented.. 200m rly.. what a freaking joke!
pizan 21st May 2009, 18:40 Quote
Wow lame patent cases must be the only source of income for that part of Texas. We really need some patent reform.
Nicb 21st May 2009, 18:43 Quote
I hope MS pays up if its truly infringement, which would not be the first time.

I would love it if Internet Explorer did not come with the installation. I've always kept a recent Firefox install file on my portable drive.
I think the most reasonable thing would be to have a menu list in the installation process.
But then again how many people actually install their own OS like we do. The masses would have preinstalled Windows and of course IE 8 with it. Over all I think that (FF)argument is a waste of time and would not change much if they did win.

Haha if everybody used Firefox I would be wondering what the better browser was.
HourBeforeDawn 21st May 2009, 21:12 Quote
We live an era where people can actually try and create anything because in some way or form its been patented so we effective reduce our technological progress ugh I hate it...
DXR_13KE 21st May 2009, 23:24 Quote
indeed... we have got to a point that it scares developers away....
RichCreedy 22nd May 2009, 00:35 Quote
i asked the same thing on a previous related story
RichCreedy 22nd May 2009, 00:43 Quote
on the patent front, i wrote a big long piece about why the patent system is wrong and should be gotten rid of, i feel it stifels innovation or improvement. i decided not to post it.

you only have to look at the patent dispute that is graham bell. 2 people working on similar ideas but 1 got to the patent office first. so the other loses out. doesn't matter whose was better just who got there first.
naokaji 22nd May 2009, 03:03 Quote
I fear the moment windows no longer comes with a browser....
Imagine a regular sunday morning mom calls and asks how the f*** she is supposed to use the internet without a browser

*signs her up to some linux course, wipes her harddisk and hides the windows disk*
dyzophoria 22nd May 2009, 03:45 Quote
the patent system as with the justice system should really be redesigned when it comes to Intellectual property like these, its the same complaint over and over again =\
gnutonian 22nd May 2009, 03:49 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichCreedy
on the patent front, i wrote a big long piece about why the patent system is wrong and should be gotten rid of, i feel it stifels innovation or improvement. i decided not to post it.
You and the others above are completely right, in my opinion. A lot of things that are patented are so general that they encompass so many functions and ideas that, well, as DXR_13KE said: it scares developers away.
No point in working on software when there's a good chance you'll be taken to court, lose your software and hard work, and pay up a lot of money.

Therefore I think that campaigns such as stopsoftwarepatents.org and endsoftpatents.org are not only good, but extremely necessary.

The patent system needs to be reformed or exclude software as a whole. If anyone can patent mathematical functions and pure ideas we're not going to have any development or innovation.
Quote:
Originally Posted by naokaji
*signs her up to some linux course, wipes her harddisk and hides the windows disk*
GNU/Linux ;) (Sorry, I know it's annoying)
Faulk_Wulf 22nd May 2009, 03:57 Quote
Slightly OT, but @Imperium--

Linux vs GNU/Linux -- what's the diff? Obviously enough to *correct. So just wondering.

---

On Topic:
Patent Trolls = Fail.

I think a patent should have to be for a specific idea. Apple shouldn't copyright a touch-screen phone, just their specific OS that allows it to understand the input for example. Thus if another company makes a touchscreen phone as long as it doesn't use the Apple OS then it'd be fine.

(Just an off the cuff example.)
n3mo 22nd May 2009, 04:05 Quote
Yeah, now you say that the patent system is wrong, until you create something great and someone else just takes it and makes huge money with it. I bet this would change your view 180 degrees.

Microsoft infringed many patents, in most situations they just shut up other (usually small) companies with money and the case never makes it to the public, the only moments you hear about it is when someone is not smart enough to use the "we'll go public unless you pay us" and thinks that taking the case to the court will earn them more. I think that Microsoft (but this applies to most really big companies) thinks of this as a way of buying the code or solutions. It would probably cost them more to develop it on their own, so they just take the ready solutions and shut everyone up with cash. $200m is pocket money for them and they have some really good lawyers.
gnutonian 22nd May 2009, 04:12 Quote
Quote:
Linux vs GNU/Linux -- what's the diff? Obviously enough to *correct. So just wondering.
There's no difference, except that referring to the entire OS as Linux ignores the work of thousands of (unpaid) people who worked on the software for the GNU project which is included in any "Linux" distribution. Ubuntu's apparently the favoured one nowadays: Gnome is GNU's desktop manager, to give a very visible example. Plus, if it weren't for the GNU Project, the Linux kernel would probably have been a lot less famous, and a lot less used. When Torvalds GPLed his kernel, eight years of software development was ready to be built around it. If people want to use Linux only, I wish them a lot fun with their kernel and software development ;)

Quote:
Yeah, now you say that the patent system is wrong, until you create something great and someone else just takes it and makes huge money with it. I bet this would change your view 180 degrees.
It is wrong because, as Faulk_Wulf said:
Quote:
Apple shouldn't copyright a touch-screen phone, just their specific OS that allows it to understand the input for example. Thus if another company makes a touchscreen phone as long as it doesn't use the Apple OS then it'd be fine.
Right now, you can patent very general ideas that have many implementations. This stifles development by other people who cannot or don't want to pay you for your general idea.

Then there's the problem of big companies (IBM, for one), who can afford all the fees, patenting just about anything they can lay their hands on; holding on to those patents until another company develops something that is slightly close to "their" general idea and pounce on them with a lawsuit.

If I were able to patent my modding ideas, more than twenty people from this site alone would've been in court. It's a ridiculous idea. An idea is an idea and you shouldn't be able to patent it.
A very specific function? Yes. A very general function with thousands of applications, of which you're only going to use one? No. An idea? No.
BLC 22nd May 2009, 10:54 Quote
...*YAWN*... Yet another company trying to take a chunk out of a competitor with a pointless "patent" suit... Never been here before...
RichCreedy 23rd May 2009, 14:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by n3mo
Yeah, now you say that the patent system is wrong, until you create something great and someone else just takes it and makes huge money with it. I bet this would change your view 180 degrees.

I have already come up with a couple of ideas that i thought about, but never patented. a few years after my ideas, low and behold someone else is building them.

Using tft screens for picture frames and memory cards was an idea i had several years ago
barack 23rd May 2009, 14:29 Quote
i never thought before that Microsoft would do this.
ssj12 24th May 2009, 06:15 Quote
how do you patent XML tags? I'm lost on this. XML is free code that shouldn't be patent controlled. I agree with Microsoft on this one, it makes no apparent sense as this patent should be invalidated to begin with.
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