US patent office gives i4i Word up in Microsoft snub
Redmond suffers another XML setback on eve of Office 2010 launch
Microsoft's request to have the patent claim it brought against Canadian software maker i4i examined has been thrown out by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
i4i said it was pleased that all the claims of US patent number 5,787,449 that belong to the company came out unscathed following a re-examination called for by Microsoft.
"This is a very material step in our litigation against Microsoft. Put simply: i4i's patent is clearly and unequivocally valid. Even though Microsoft attacked i4i's patent claims with its full arsenal, the Patent Office agreed with i4i and confirmed the validity of our '449 patent," said i4i chairman Loudon Owen.
In December 2009 Microsoft was ordered to pay $290m to i4i following a long-running patent spat with the firm over an XML - or extensible markup language - custom editor present in some editions of MS Word.
i4i won the patent legal battle against Microsoft in a US district court in Texas on 12 August last year.
Microsoft was slapped with the multi-million dollar fine and issued with an injunction that preventing it from selling 2003 and 2007 versions of Word that came loaded with i4i’s patented XML tech.
The software giant was also required to remove the custom XML editor from its upcoming Office 2010 suite, which the company will officially launch tomorrow.
"i4i's '449 patented invention infuses life into the use of Extensible Mark Up Language (XML) and dramatically enhances the ability to structure what was previously unstructured data," said Owen.
"As the magnitude of data grows exponentially, this is a critical technological bridge to controlling and managing this sprawling octopus of data and converting it into useful information."
The Register asked Microsoft to comment on this story. It gave us this statement from chief flack Kevin Kutz:
"We are disappointed, but there still remain important matters of patent law at stake, and we are considering our options to get them addressed, including a petition to the Supreme Court." ®
As the great philosopher once said:
"Get it reet up ye!"
Patents, by and large, are a detriment to software. There probably are a few occasions where a patent protects masses of R&D on something truly novel but most....most protect the blatantly obvious or otherwise predictable.
Whilst I am deeply enjoying the Schadenfreude of MS getting reamed by a patent, I would much rather that i4i did not have this patent (or only had a seriously time limited) and that MS did not have its bollocks patents of FAT etc.
But if MS see fit to screw over HTC, TomTom and threaten the world with their mystery patents; then it is only fair that the world can screw them back.
Top tip to HTC, TomTom et al: chuck some money at F/OSS. Get them to write drivers that can be istalled on Windows for EXT2/3/4/Whatever and then stick two fingers up to the MS bully-boys.
no sympathy for MS (and others)
Sorry MS - and Apple, Nokia, IBM, etc etc ..... you supported frivolous software patents (by not arguing against them) and now it has come back to bite you.
I'm no fan of patent trolls, but you reap what you sow.
I thought at one point last year MS said the code in Office covered by i4i's patent wasn't really used much by anyone, if at all . Now they're saying it's so important that they're willing to waste the Supreme Court's time with it. Oh, that's right, they have two sides to their lying mouth.