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Dell and HP sing Microsoft tune on Word injunction

Patent litigation "free-for-all" claimed

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Updated Dell and Hewlett-Packard are supporting Microsoft's bid to postpone a US court injunction on Word shipments.

The duo have filed documents with a US court that claims the injunction will subject them to heavy burdens and adversely impact the public interest.

Dell and HP have zeroed in on the complications the injunction will cause with the shipment of their PCs, whose images would need to be changed.

"Making such as a change would require extensive time- and resource-consuming re-testing," the OEMs said in identically worded amicus briefs.

It should be noted, however, that Dell and HP do not ship full versions of Word or Office, which contains Word, as standard. Most people have to either buy Office in addition to their PC or activate and then buy the copy that comes on their machine. So it looks like Dell and HP are talking more about business users who might get their PCs with Word and Office pre-installed as part of a volume purchasing agreement from the OEMs or Microsoft.

Also, the Dell and HP documents are identically worded in many places, so these are cookie-cutter appeals. They also echo Microsoft's own filing requesting a stay, which said its distributors would suffer irreparable harm from the injunction.

In other sections, huge chunks have been redacted from the publicly available versions of the Dell and HP documents in the name of business confidentially.

An amicus is a familiar tool for plaintiffs. It's intended to add persuade a court or judge hearing a case. The Dell and HP documents support a stay of the injunction, which is due to kick-in next month, and do not count as part of Microsoft's actual appeal.

Microsoft, meanwhile, laid out its arguments against the ruling in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas that ruled Microsoft infringed on an i4i patent in Word and Judge Leonard Davis decision to grant an injunction and fine Microsoft for violating i4i's XML patent in Word.

The company's legal team claimed: "This is not justice."

If the ruling stood, Microsoft argued: "Patent litigation will be reduced to a free-for-all, unbounded by the requirements of the substantive law or the rules of evidence or trial procedure. While that mode of dispute resolution might enrich some plaintiffs and their investors, it hardly can be said to "promote the Progress of Science and the useful Arts."

i4i chairman Loudon Owen is reported to have responded by calling Microsoft's appeal brief an "extraordinary document" that "captures the hostile attitude of Microsoft toward inventors who dare to enforce patents against them. It is also blatantly derogatory about the Court system." ®

This article has been updated to reflect the fact some PCs ship with trial editions of Word and Office.

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