i4i: We aren't out to take Microsoft down

I4i Chairman Loudon Owen, the winner of a major injunction against Microsoft has said that his goal is not to get Microsoft Word pulled from shelves. Owen said to ZDnet on Wednesday that "he is one of the hundreds of millions of people who uses Word and the other Microsoft Office tools every day.". This should be the case seeing as the software that i4i actually offers is only an add on to Microsoft Word.

"We're not seeking to stop Microsoft's business and we're not seeking to interfere with all the users of Word out there," Owen said to ZDnet this Wednesday. He also added that the injunction only prevents Microsoft from selling copies of Microsoft Word that include i4i's custom XML technology. The problem with this is, that currently, every version of Microsoft Word (2003/2007/2010) include this technology.

Owen said that he would like to see a version of Word come out without the technology in question. "The injunction is not saying there is no more Word for the world," Owen said. "That is not our intention and that would not be a sensible remedy."

The ruling issues an injunction against Microsoft that would bar Word in its current form. The ruling would go into effect in 60 days, unless Microsoft wins a stay as part of an appeal, which is currently in the works.

But Owen said i4i's focus is on its products, not on the courts. Owen said i4i's mission is trying to make all information database-ready. The company, which has about 30 employees and has been running since 1993, has products in use by a number of large companies, including many large pharmaceutical names such as Amgen, Bayer and Biogen.

He also added when asked if there was room for partnership between the companies, that the company's goal is to help structure the world's information and it will do whatever it takes to reach that goal. "We are always ready willing and able to partner with any good partner, whoever that is."


I4i Chairman Loudon Owen
Image: McLean Watson

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I see, he doesn't want to lose his precious Word software, yet he could care less about everyone else losing XML. Yet another typical hypocrite this world is full of.

I4i sued Microsoft in March, 2007, claiming that the Redmond, Wash., company had infringed on a patent awarded in 1998 for manipulating complex data in electronic documents.

Microsoft became aware of i4i when the firm was tapped by the U.S. government after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to help "connect the dots" between different agencies, Mr. Vulpe said. Rather than licence i4i's technology, Microsoft chose instead to just incorporate it into its Word products, he added.

"I would assume the biggest software company in the world would have a solution," said Loudon Owen, chairman of both i4i and McLean Watson Capital Inc., a Toronto-based venture capital firm that seeded i4i in 1996 and still holds a financial stake.

(Mr. Owen's keen eye for promising technology led him and a friend to raise cash for a tiny Montreal software company back in 1987. Softimage Inc., whose animation software would later bring dinosaurs to life in the blockbuster Jurassic Park , was acquired just seven years later for $200-million by Microsoft.) The i4i jury verdict in May had recommended damages against Microsoft in the amount of $200-million. On Tuesday, the judge awarded another $40-million for willful infringement, plus $37-million in prejudgment interest payments, and post-verdict damages from May at the rate of $144,060 a day. The court's calculations included an assumption that about 2 per cent of Microsoft's customer base in the U.S. was using i4i technology. Mr. Vulpe says that is forecast to swell to 80 per cent within three years as word processing moves beyond simple presentation into data retrieval and organization.

Based on the court's guidelines, a licensing agreement going forward with Microsoft will be "huge," he said. "We expect the process is going to run for a while yet," Mr. Vulpe said. "This has been a huge distraction over the last few years to get vindicated, but we have to stick with our core business. If we take our eye off the ball, it will destroy our customer base."

I4i's first customer after being awarded the patent was the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office itself. Today, the technology is used by pharmaceutical firms, manufacturers, airlines and governments.

MS are culpable and know it! This is not the first time that they have pulled a stunt like this, nor will it be the last!!


Farstrider said,


MS are culpable and know it! This is not the first time that they have pulled a stunt like this, nor will it be the last!!




Excuse me; considering that Microsoft was *not* aware of i4i until *after* the infringement suposedly occurred (consider which versions of Word are in contention), that's kind of hard to quantify, even from the evidence.

Also, it seems that even the judge may be aware of customers not even using the Contested Formats (notice that only the DOCX format is in violation, not the still-used Word 97 DOC format).

While most folks that avoid DOCX do so for other reasons (like backward and cross-compatibility), it also lessens the possible impact of any damages awardable i4i against Microsoft.

I have no opinion one way or the other on the case, except that I have to consider *where* the case was filed, and the outcome of similar cases heard in the same court. (The Eastern District of Texas has garnered a bad reputation as a *patent-troll court*, just like the Eastern District of Virginia became known for the *rocket docket*.)

has anyone stopped to consider that i4i might be in the right here? If I had a patent and someone else used it you can be damn sure I would be suing them for as much as I could get.

speedstr3789 said,
has anyone stopped to consider that i4i might be in the right here? If I had a patent and someone else used it you can be damn sure I would be suing them for as much as I could get.



I'm not saying whether i4i is right or not (I'm neither a judge or a lawyer, or even a paralegal). The issue here is more the timing (2007) and the location of the court (the Eastern District of Texas).

The door got left open by a comment made post-decision by i4i's own CEO: Office 2010 Technical Preview does NOT violate the i4i patent, even though it still uses DOCX as a format option.

That means the patent royalty train is going to come to an abrupt halt "as soon as Office 2010 ships", if not sooner. (I'm using Office 2010 x64 Technical Preview right now as my default productivity suite for "performance and stability reasons" over Office 2007 SR2 32-bit, which it replaced, and a LOT of beta-testers have followed suit (replacing not just Office 2007, but 2003 as well, which are the two versions of Office in violation). All Microsoft has to do is keep that performance level in place, and the two versions of Office in violation become shelfware real fast.)

The Clock Is Ticking on i4i, and they know it.

Actually, it's another comment that he made that is more telling: he says that Office 2010 does NOT use i4i's patented methodology. It means that the Royalty Train that i4i has been riding is about to come to a Rather Abrupt Halt *regardless of the eventual resolution of the lawsuit*. As soon as Office 2010 (Windows/Mac/Web/Mobile) ships, i4i is Royally Screwed. With the Technical Preview in the hands of testers, i4i is doubtless aware that it has only until the CPP versions ship to count on any royalty checks for that patent to keep on rolling in (and if the CPP bits are as solid as the current Technical Preview, which is actually Highly Likely, folks will leave Office 2003 and 2007 (the versions in violation) in droves). The Clock (more like the time bomb) is ticking on i4i. (That may have been the real reason for the lawsuit; the royalty window that a software patent is was about to close.)

last comment that he made.. abt partnering.. says that they are all abt money.. give us money and we will leave u.. why only Microsoft? there are so many companies using XML in some or the other way like word is doing. OpenOffice for example.. even if it is free.. isnt it still creating patent issue?

i4i: We aren't out to take Microsoft down

Or, to put it another way, i4i scrambles to do damage control as their image slips into the sewer.

1998 patent (No. 5,787,449) for a document system that "eliminated the need for manually embedded formatting codes. "

Correct me if i'm wrong, but didn't Word stop requiring you to manually embed formatting codes when it was still text-based for DOS? The ".<formatcode>" commands have been gone for a LONG time.

GreyWolfSC said,
Correct me if i'm wrong, but didn't Word stop requiring you to manually embed formatting codes when it was still text-based for DOS? The ".<formatcode>" commands have been gone for a LONG time.



It was Word 5 for DOS that eliminated that requirement, following in the footsteps of WordPerfect 5.1 (also for DOS). Word for Windows 6 (and WordPerfect for Windows 6.0 and 6.0a) never had that requirement. You *could* do it, but you didn't have to (and the big reason folks did was for backward-compatibility when designing document templates; I did exactly that using WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS pre-Windows).

How long until Apple realise they are using the i* prefix and try to sue for that??

The XML extension is in wide use and has been for years, Microsoft have a patent to use XML format granted back in 2004

Source - "http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-329645.html"

There is no way this company will continue to win they've already been paid out for certain parts of the XML format that they patented. i4i will lose eventually as they don't have the resources to continue to fight MS.

cerealfreak said,
There is no way this company will continue to win they've already been paid out for certain parts of the XML format that they patented. i4i will lose eventually as they don't have the resources to continue to fight MS.

I think the usual scam is to have lawyers that'll work for free -- if there's a settlement they get a big chunk -- & hope that the defendant (in this case MS) settles for a bit less than their expected legal costs. In this case it's quite a gamble -- i4i doesn't have a product if Office is pulled off the shelves, plus I'm sure they'll have compatibility problems in the future.

He says this before Microsoft destroys his company from the inside. Poetic justice because his company is called i4i.

We aren't out to take microsoft down.. we just want their money.

This whole issue of patents, and lawsuits it's just getting out of control.

How about i go and patent walking with two legs, steping with one foot and then the other.

I patent breathing slowly and spitting.

crashguy said,
We aren't out to take microsoft down.. we just want their money.

This whole issue of patents, and lawsuits it's just getting out of control.

How about i go and patent walking with two legs, steping with one foot and then the other.

I patent breathing slowly and spitting.

Exactly!
I'm surprised I didn't have to pay royalties to read this article & comments -- surely there are patent applications for everything from opening your eyes to reading the text... Maybe we deserve it for electing lawyers to public office in the 1st place -- what did we expect?

(snipped) If anyone breaks your patent, you will sure as hell sue him, and that's what they did.

You weren't in the court, you don't know the claims, nor the defense case. You practically know nothing.

(snipped)

Actually it's called common sense -- something the Patent Offices apparently haven't heard of... they should have never granted the patent in the 1st place. The target for these sorts of scams can be anybody, but obviously MS was chosen, just like most other defendants in these suits, for their bank accounts.

It's easy not to care one way or the other, figuring MS can afford it, but if you pay taxes in the US, Owen just cost you money -- even if MS pays court costs, you help pay for more courtrooms & the judges necessary to handle the workload whilst this idgit pursues his retirement.

mikiem said,
Actually it's called common sense -- something the Patent Offices apparently haven't heard of... they should have never granted the patent in the 1st place. The target for these sorts of scams can be anybody, but obviously MS was chosen, just like most other defendants in these suits, for their bank accounts.

It's easy not to care one way or the other, figuring MS can afford it, but if you pay taxes in the US, Owen just cost you money -- even if MS pays court costs, you help pay for more courtrooms & the judges necessary to handle the workload whilst this idgit pursues his retirement.

That's a different issue that has nothing to do with this case. If there is a problem with the patent they can appeal it in order to cancel it.

As long as the patent stands, Microsoft broke the law.

aarste said,
Took him long enough to file a lawsuit against MS if the infringement existed since Word 2003. Sigh.

Well, with Office off-lined he has no product, does he? If MS re-designs Office to get around his patents, he has no product. If he needs help integrating his apps into some future version of Office, he has no product, as MS will understandably make it as hard as possible. The guy just had his company commit suicide...

Maybe it took so long because there was some hope i4i would be viable, or he wasn't ready to retire, or some lawyer hadn't convinced him yet to commit some legal form of what's essentially extortion.

This seems like an obvious thing to me to extend xml in this way, how can someone have a patent for this!?

This really isn't much of an issue. The patented technology isn't in Office 2010 and Microsoft can easily modify 2003/2007 to exclude the technology. Besides, through the use of appeals, the sale ban may not actually go into effect for years. The news didn't even touch MS's stock.

boogerjones said,
This really isn't much of an issue. The patented technology isn't in Office 2010 and Microsoft can easily modify 2003/2007 to exclude the technology. Besides, through the use of appeals, the sale ban may not actually go into effect for years. The news didn't even touch MS's stock.



Also, how much is DOCX actually used?

Even though I've used Microsoft Office since Office 95 (in fact, likely *because* I've used it that long), I still save Word documents in the older Word 97 DOC format (which *all* the contested versions of Word, as well as Word 2010, which I use now, still permit) to eliminate the cross/backward-compatibility bugbear. There are *lots* of other users of Word (and especially Word 2003 and 2007, which are the versions being the most in contention) that do the same thing. So Microsoft *could* patch-out the Contested Formats (for all except Word 2010, which is not covered or coverable by the injunction, as it is not a subject of the lawsuit) and wind up affecting only those users that actually *use* DOCX, which could be less than half of all users of Word. (Remember, I don't use DOCX in Word 2010 either.)

It's just good to be able to read a thread on this without lovethepenguin replying to every post with "what goes around comes around hehe" lol

Chipshop said,
It's just good to be able to read a thread on this without lovethepenguin replying to every post with "what goes around comes around hehe" lol


Actually it was I that said "what goes around comes around". i4i are perfectly entitled to sue for breach of patent and would have had to try to get Microsoft to license it before being allowed to sue. (snipped)

What about their persecution of the "Lindows" linux distro simply because they didn't like the name - and that case was thrown out of every court they went to but they kept sueing in country after country until the management of Lindows accepted they would go broke if they kept fighting.

If this type of action is what you call justice then the world is (snipped). The bullies will have finally won.

Chipshop said,
It's just good to be able to read a thread on this without lovethepenguin replying to every post with "what goes around comes around hehe" lol

Hmmmm you obviously mis-read the above post as "this is stupid, i hate lawsuits against MS, i hate everything Linux"
Did i write that? nope. So maybe you lengthy post wouldn't have been wasted if you's typed it at the bottom of the thread.

Roscomac said,
i4i are perfectly entitled to sue for breach of patent and would have had to try to get Microsoft to license it before being allowed to sue. If you don't accept that Microsoft regularly indulge in this type of action then you're a moron.

Well... lots of folks figure if 2 crooks shoot each other, who cares? The answer is everyone ducking stray bullets.

None of this happens in a vacuum, & somewhere down the line we'll all have to pay for it. In this case it could wind up hitting businesses that use Office with extra costs, & since that comes out of their budget, they have to cut somewhere else, like maybe on *nix support, so the company supplying that support cuts back. Or maybe it's the felon that goes free because the courts are backlogged, who happens to rob your biz or home.

bull****. If that was the case you would go after OpenOffice also as they have the same extension support. But, wait, they have hardly any cash resource... so let's not even mention them. Or Apple and it's docx support, or xml extensions in iWorks.

Microsoft could do the ultimate "**** you, we're not paying you!" by just removing the technology from Office 2010 and patching it out of 2003 and 2007.

And screw over everyone that uses the docx format? I know I wouldn't be happy getting a patch from MS that tells me that I can't open my Word files anymore.

Majesticmerc said,
And screw over everyone that uses the docx format? I know I wouldn't be happy getting a patch from MS that tells me that I can't open my Word files anymore.


Good - then sue I4i for "Restriction of Trade"

Majesticmerc said,
And screw over everyone that uses the docx format? I know I wouldn't be happy getting a patch from MS that tells me that I can't open my Word files anymore.


A whole lot of folks don't even use the Contested Formats because of compatibility with older versions of Word (I don't use them for that same reason, as well as cross-compatibility with older versions of WordPad); instead, I save Word documents in the old DOC format (which all versions of Word, including 2010, still allow). So how much damage will stripping out DOCX actually do? Likely not as much as i4i would like, due to user intransigence.

Couldn't this extend to barring the sales of computers that have the 'free trial' of Office? Imagine the headaches at retail outlets.

"The injunction is not saying there is no more Word for the world," Owen said. "That is not our intention and that would not be a sensible remedy."

Riight. And this injunction will make the world and all the frustrated ITs resulting from this case all the more harmonious.

thats the look of someone who will get $290+++ million in damages. little does he suspect that mo money mo problems come soon after.

3rd impact said,
thats the look of someone who will get $290+++ million in damages. little does he suspect that mo money mo problems come soon after.

Hahahahaha, I need to find this knucklehead and launch my Office disc at him with that weapon from I Come in Peace. Little peon who has less than 50 workers. If I knew what his company was or what he actually sold, I would stop buying it. I know many folks hate MS, but I, for one, am a fan. I never did understand why they changed .doc files to .docx files, but I guess now I know. And knowing is half the battle. GI JOEEEEEEEEEEEEE (don't see the movie).

grewnd33 said,
... but I guess now I know. And knowing is half the battle. GI JOEEEEEEEEEEEEE (don't see the movie).


ROFL I quote this line ALL the time and seem to be the only one that either understands it, or finds it funny... LOL and double LOL...

ok so maybe not THAT funny, but still, I'm glad I'm not the only one .

AND yes I plan on seeing the movie... no I can't resist... it IS GI JOE after all!

It would most likely be cheaper for Microsoft to just buy the company ... a company with 30 employees most likely would cost less than it would cost to settle this out of court.

Septimus said,
Then fire that smug tosser.

I see. You seem to have missed the point that this company appears to have a valid case, at least valid enough for a judge to rule in their favor pending appeal. Assuming these people aren't just patent trolls, and they don't seem to be. How would feel if you'd spent your time and money developing an app, only to have a larger company take the benefits of your work without acknowledgment or payment?

If Microsoft is using XML without permission, then they should pay royalties on it for what has been sold, and then cease including it from here on out.

Sorry, for a second I thought XML was supposed to be extensible. Which means any purpose that coincides with data description should not be patentable.

billyea said,
Sorry, for a second I thought XML was supposed to be extensible. Which means any purpose that coincides with data description should not be patentable.

If you 'extend' XML in such a way that infringes on another patent that you are no longer working with an open standard. Effectively what you're saying is that Apple could release Windows 8, extended from Windows 7, and be free from patent infringement -- an overblown example to be sure, but it is a very similar situation.

You may consider this more like the example of OpenBSD versus FreeBSD versus any other BSD but it really isn't - BSD and other Linux distributions build against licenses that specifically allow redistribution and modification in any form assuming there is appropriate credit given. XML is not released under such a license nor does it's use as an ISO standard imply such a license (as far as I am aware, IANAL).

Again I say it is the system that is the problem -- not Microsoft or i4i.

ccoltmanm said,
If Microsoft is using XML without permission, then they should pay royalties on it for what has been sold, and then cease including it from here on out.

You do know that XML is an open format right? I guess not, I assumed you knew what you were talking about....It's not USING the XML format that is the problem here. It is the function that it performs for Word which is apparently patented by this butt-hole, miserable company called i4i

"The injunction is not saying there is no more Word for the world," Owen said. "That is not our intention and that would not be a sensible remedy."

He says that, but the problem is, if Office 2003+ all you this "technology" then that is what's going to happen - there will be no more Word for the world because they can't sell it anymore - that is unless MS wins the appeal and/or partners with them involving I'm sure, a large fee of some sort.

Geranium_Z__NL said,
i bet he aint so pretty after the microsoft fan boys find out where he lives :O

LOL. You think MS fanboys are going to leave their basements and caves to come get this guy?

This is confusing, first its about the XML features in docx and now hes saying that its been in word since Office 2003. Its things like this that make me think that everyone just sues Microsoft to get a new infusion of cash without having to take out a loan.. Free money..

statm1 said,
This is confusing, first its about the XML features in docx and now hes saying that its been in word since Office 2003. Its things like this that make me think that everyone just sues Microsoft to get a new infusion of cash without having to take out a loan.. Free money..


Microsoft backported docx to 2003 and i am pretty sure office xp also.

I didnt know big companies use their tech so this might not be a patent trol lafter all.

No, this isn't anything to do with the back porting of OOXML to Office 2003.

It's more to do with the use of XML in 2003 (which supports only a subset of the normal features) and also the XML used in 2007/2010 which we all know as OOXML.

I believe the reason that he has singled out the use of XML is so that he can actually show the resulting XML to lay people in his patent infringement case.

ZenPirate said,
Translation: "We expect a large sum of money from Microsoft to make this go away, and we'll get it."

They've already gotten a few large sums... LOL

ZenPirate said,
Translation: "We expect a large sum of money from Microsoft to make this go away, and we'll get it."


You can't blame them for that. Actually the best deal for Microsoft would be to buy the whole company. How much is it worth to MS not to have to change Word.

hmmm, so does Microsoft hire hits on people are pass it off as an accident? cuz if this was one of those movies i'm sure i4i would get one of its i's poked out as a warning haha...

but seriously... don't other companies use XML in their products? does openoffice open an xml file and .docx files too?

Magallanes said,
i think, because it is for free, then it is pointless to ask for a share x sale :

$ 0 x 10% = $0


Sounds like software piracy.