Thursday, 13 August 2009

Microsoft Word infringes XML patent

According to Nick Eaton, in his blog for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer - I always thought that a wonderful name for a newspaper: following the termination of the cosy arrangements between the PI and the Seattle Times, it's now an online only paper, if that's still the right word - Microsoft have been ordered to stop selling, or supporting, Word. Well, not quite: the court, in the Eastern District of Texas (situated in the town of Marshall, pop 24,000, the self-proclaimed Pottery Capital of the World) ordered that Microsoft would have to do that in 60 days, so I imagine there's an opportunity for a settlement. And the injunction could be satisfied by removing XML support from the program, so it's not as far-reaching as suggested.

The plaintiff is Candian company, i4i Inc., so the choice of Texas as a forum for the litigation is odd, at first glance. But the Eastern District court is notorious as the court of preference for patent trolls - which some commentators say is what i4i is. (Others suggest it is a vehicle for a disgruntled Microsoft employee to seek revenge: I don't know, and I don't care enough to try to find out.) No-one seems to believe the patent can really be valid, and it seems pretty certain that the case will go the other way on appeal: a rare instance of the IT community rooting for Microsoft, although one might have more sympathy if Microsoft wasn't as addicted to software patents as it is. So, really, the story seems to be about the well-known deficiencies of teh US patent system especially as far as granting worthless software patents goes.

No comments:


blogger templates | Make Money Online