Microsoft loses second i4i patent appeal

According to BBC News, Microsoft has lost its second appeal to overrule the $240 million dollar fine imposed by a US court for copyright infringement. The initial ruling dictated that Microsoft pay up, as well as removes the infringing XML technology from Microsoft Word. Thus far, Microsoft has complied with removing the software. In the process, however, they have continued to fight the ruling.

Microsoft's first appeal was ruled on in December 2009. The court decided that Microsoft was, in fact, guilty. The second appeal resulted in much of the same; but this time, the ruling came with an explanation. "In court documents spelling out their reasoning, the three appeal court judges said there was evidence that Microsoft knew i4i technology was patented before it turned up in Office programs."

Microsoft has begun the process of a third appeal, asking for a more thorough investigation. A decision as to whether the appeal will be accepted is expected in the next six weeks. If the court refuses the appeal, Microsoft can take its case all the way to the Supreme Court (and probably will).

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Google is trying to lock in a deal with China

Next Story

Apple opens the iPad pre-order flood gates, limit two per customer

37 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

thenetavenger ...

I wonder which paradise you are living in - fool's or ignorant's. The whole GUI concept came from Apple Macintosh to start with. M$ had nothing more than basic command lline DOS. Not even a single application to ride on top of it!

The mouse - the absolute foundation of any GUI - was invented by research labs of Xerox Corporation. If anything the whole Windows GUI business is an out and out copy of yesteryear Mac. Apple lost the patent case quite likely because of insufficient funds or more likely due to reluctance to fight dirty - lobbying the courts perhaps ?

Now even they are learning!!!

Take that, MS! That's what you get for using so-called "standards" instead of inventing your own.
XML? Sued!
PNG? Sued!
MP3? Sued!
PDF? Sued!
Java? Sued!

Microsoft has a history of stealing from and bullying others to get what it wants. 240 million is a lot of money to any business, with it's strong ties to government(s) it has the influence to get what it wants most of the time. Cases like this are difficult for courts to understand to begin with, it might just be a little payback in play here.

the patent approval process needs to be done much more stringently, by experts..emphasis on plural.

can you imagine someone patenting a templating syntax, like Smarty or Twig, or any syntax for that matter.

plain absurdity.

I'm primarily a BSD user, but I do use and like Microsoft's products. I run a couple Windows 7 machines, and a couple of servers.. I'm definitely not an anti-MS *Nix zealot. But personally the whole IP patent thing is a bunch of nonsense. Protecting your work is one thing, but that just takes it too far. Microsoft's been pretty good on hording the patents and suing others. (They just loooove Linux for example.) That ruling's got to hurt.. sucks being on the other side of the courtroom eh?

Jen Smith said,
I'm primarily a BSD user, but I do use and like Microsoft's products. I run a couple Windows 7 machines, and a couple of servers.. I'm definitely not an anti-MS *Nix zealot. But personally the whole IP patent thing is a bunch of nonsense. Protecting your work is one thing, but that just takes it too far. Microsoft's been pretty good on hording the patents and suing others. (They just loooove Linux for example.) That ruling's got to hurt.. sucks being on the other side of the courtroom eh?

Currents software patents are ridiculous.
But...what are you talking about Linux? I knew only one case where MS pressed a Linux distro - the Lindows case (and it was about name and not technologies). Any other instances?

I haven't followed it very closely, but Microsoft was going after Linux for some 230 odd "patent violations". Plus let's not forget SCO Unix, which also tried to take on Linux; Microsoft was working behind the scenes on that one, supposedly dumping over $100 million into that. They also went after TomTom as well over bits of Linux, mostly in the kernel if I recall.

Lindows I can totally see; that's practically a blatant trademark violation if anything.. the name, the look, etc.

Jen Smith said,
I'm primarily a BSD user, but I do use and like Microsoft's products. I run a couple Windows 7 machines, and a couple of servers.. I'm definitely not an anti-MS *Nix zealot. But personally the whole IP patent thing is a bunch of nonsense. Protecting your work is one thing, but that just takes it too far. Microsoft's been pretty good on hording the patents and suing others. (They just loooove Linux for example.) That ruling's got to hurt.. sucks being on the other side of the courtroom eh?

People keep pretending like MS uses their patents to go after others, this is SO far from reality. There are only a coupld of true patent cases where MS was on the offensive, the rest were counter claims.

If MS was going to be 'offensive' they have enough patents to get all of Apples products taken off the shelf and put a big dent in the OSS community in terms of GUI concepts everyone enjoys.

Apple is the litigious big name, not Microsoft...

Jen Smith said,
I haven't followed it very closely, but Microsoft was going after Linux for some 230 odd "patent violations".

MS told that, but they didn't sue.
Jen Smith said,

They also went after TomTom as well over bits of Linux, mostly in the kernel if I recall.

TomTom is a commercial firm that was selling devices that used exFAT file system (not some vague cover-it-all tech) created by MS without paying license fees like all other companies did. MS won the case and agree with that. Notice that they didn't go after Linux [distro].

My point is: MS doesn't sue Linux developers/distros/users.

Sometimes I feel like patents are bull****. But then I think about the true innovators that should be rewarded for their work. It's a hard thing to figure out.

nubs said,
Sometimes I feel like patents are bull****. But then I think about the true innovators that should be rewarded for their work. It's a hard thing to figure out.

Software patents in their current form just do not work. I'm all for someone being able to profit from their invention, but it should be by putting it in a product that people want and pay for. Rather than patent an idea so others can't do that (Even if they've developed their own means of doing this), or innovate on it, they should put this technology into a product that they can profit on...

M_Lyons10 said,

Software patents in their current form just do not work. I'm all for someone being able to profit from their invention, but it should be by putting it in a product that people want and pay for. Rather than patent an idea so others can't do that (Even if they've developed their own means of doing this), or innovate on it, they should put this technology into a product that they can profit on...

So you want little joe over there who innovated some search idea, but has absolutely no hope to out infrastructure google to be able to do nothing to defend his idea from google?

What we need is a standard and uniform system for purchasing patent use rights, so that ANY competitor can purchase the use of ANY patent.

java2beans said,
Well, Microsoft is going to turn i4i case to an_eye4an_eye case.

hahaha, that's pretty funny. In reality, this patent is so broad that it's really ridiculous that it was even awarded...

King Mustard said,
Microsoft are really pursuing with this!

Microsoft's lawyers are really pushing after all, in any case they will win.

s3n4te said,
David beats Goliath!

Almost... As the article states, they may still have to deal with MS as far as the Supreme Court...

Edited by Kyang, Mar 12 2010, 4:13pm :

s3n4te said,
David beats Goliath!

I'm not so sure... if I remember correctly, i4i is a patent hoarding company, correct? It's not about the money, I'm sure... $240 million is pocket change to MS. And it's obviously not about the technology since they've already removed the "infringing" code.

SO that leaves one possible explanation... Microsoft is as fed up with Patent Law as the next guy (even though they exploit it themselves regularly).

At least, that's my interpretation of all this...

vaximily said,

I'm not so sure... if I remember correctly, i4i is a patent hoarding company, correct? It's not about the money, I'm sure... $240 million is pocket change to MS. And it's obviously not about the technology since they've already removed the "infringing" code.

SO that leaves one possible explanation... Microsoft is as fed up with Patent Law as the next guy (even though they exploit it themselves regularly).

At least, that's my interpretation of all this...


If Microsoft can convince a judge that you can't patent specific code for a method of doing something, but rather you can only patent the action, then Microsoft could possibly successfully apply this precedent against Apple's multi-touch.

Edited by greenwizard88, Mar 12 2010, 4:14pm :

greenwizard88 said,
If Microsoft can convince a judge that you can't patent specific code for a method of doing something, but rather you can only patent the action, then Microsoft could possibly successfully apply this precedent against Apple's multi-touch.

Don't you mean that you can patent a specific piece of code but NOT the action? Obviously, Apple and Microsoft would have different source code, but both are moving forward with various multi-touch technology's.

s3n4te said,
David beats Goliath!

Not quite. "David gives Goliath a small, but annoying cut on the leg" might be more appropriate.

greenwizard88 said,

If Microsoft can convince a judge that you can't patent specific code for a method of doing something, but rather you can only patent the action, then Microsoft could possibly successfully apply this precedent against Apple's multi-touch.

Microsoft has their own solutions for multitouch, as they built their own prototypes at the same time (remember the table?). Apple has nothing to hold over Microsoft in this regard.

The big problem with this case, is that Microsoft worked with i4i and supposedly stole the patent. The problem is that the patent is so generic, that it basically patents all XML data. Whoever approved the patent as legitimate was an absolute idiot, even in the early years of XML, as XML is the "eXtensible Markup Language"--using it for generic purposes, with a predefined understanding (the gist of the patent) should have been obvious. It certainly should be to anyone that has seen XML with any measure of understanding.

Edited by pickypg, Mar 12 2010, 5:19pm : typo and clarification

pickypg said,

Microsoft has their own solutions for multitouch, as they built their own prototypes at the same time (remember the table?). Apple has nothing to hold over Microsoft in this regard.

The big problem with this case, is that Microsoft worked with i4i and supposedly stole the patent. The problem is that the patent is so generic, that it basically patents all XML data. Whoever approved the patent as legitimate was an absolute idiot, even in the early years of XML, as XML is the "eXtensible Markup Language"--using it for generic purposes, with a predefined understanding (the gist of the patent) should have been obvious. It certainly should be to anyone that has seen XML with any measure of understanding.

And this is why there needs to be an overhaul of the software patent system...

s3n4te said,
David beats Goliath!

I'd rather call this "anti-natural selection". When a company that does nothing like i4i succeeds in stealing money from an innovating company, I feel that something's rotten.