Microsoft's Word patent case to hit appeal court next month
XML-rated headache for Redmond
A US federal court will hear Microsoft’s Word injunction appeal on 23 September.
i4i, the company that secured a major victory against MS earlier this month, confirmed the hearing late last week.
On 11 August a judge for the US District Court of Eastern Texas ordered Microsoft to stop shipments of Word in 60 days time, after it was found to have violated an XML patent held by Toronto, Canada-based i4i.
"We firmly believe that the US District Court made the right decision on the merits of the case," said i4i chairman Loudon Owen in a statement to CNet. "We are confident that we will prevail on the appeal."
"This is a vital case for inventors and entrepreneurial companies who, like i4i, are damaged by the wilful infringement of their patents by competitors; particularly competitors as large and powerful as Microsoft," said Owen.
Microsoft, which is losing more than $100,000 per day until the date of final judgment of damages is due, had pushed for the court to allow for a speedy appeal.
“As we’ve maintained throughout this process, we believe the evidence clearly demonstrates that we do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid. We look forward to filing our appeal and to Court of Appeals review,” a Microsoft legal spokesman told ZDNet. ®
Should software be subject to patents at all?
The real issue here is whether XML should be subjected to patents at all, indeed, whether any software should be subjected to patents. Since the US Patent and Trademark Office (US PTO) usurped the right to issue software patents after the divisive verdict by the Supreme Court in Diamond v. Diehr (1981), without approval from the US Senate, this has served to hinder software development.
Unlike inventions with a physical dimension that require the protection of patents, patenting software is wholly unnecessary since copyright provides sufficient protection for the publishers.
A Straight-forward Solution
I have heard (but not seen) reports that Microsoft knew it was violating this company's patent and simply took what it saw as a calculated risk: If they sue, and they win, then we will settle out of court.
If that is true, and, as reported, the judge has an email from MS laying out this strategy, the solution is to invalidate 100% of Microsoft's own patents. They have to pay others who hold valid patents. They cannot make a cent from their own ever again.
I don't think anything less will put an end to calculated risk taking, and attempts to stall and delay until the other side goes broke.
If one is going to allow software patents, the cost of willfully violating them needs to be very high.
Why 60 days?
Seems that they should be stopping right away, or at least in a bit less time.
"I don't normally support Micro$haft in legal matters, but I actually hope they win this one..."
I can't imagine why you would hope for that. Microsoft have merely been hoisted on their own petard. Not only do they wholeheartedly endorse the idea of software patents, but they knowingly infringed on this one from the very start. Their attitude seems to be that software patents are great when Microsoft can use them to attack smaller companies (TomTom) but otherwise be ignored when MS want to copy someone elses product because MS can afford more lawyers than almost everyone else. I find this incredibly cynical attitude to be entirely despicable.
Personally, I hope they get burnt and burnt bad. Maybe then they might start considering changing their stance on the validity of software patents (although I doubt it)
"Gawd! It's so hard to come down on the Evil Empire's side."
Well don't then. Microsoft were a driving force behind software patenting. Just sit back and enjoy the schadenfreude!