Patent office rejects Microsoft's re-examination request in i4i dispute

Back in March, Microsoft lost its second appeal in attempting to overrule the $240+ million fine they were handed for infringing on an Office related XML pattern held by i4i. Microsoft currently has a third appeal in the works and is waiting to see if it will accepted by the court. In the meantime, contesting the i4i patent itself has been one of their top priorities.

Our friend, Mary Jo Foley, over at ZDNet, has posted an update in the ongoing Microsoft/i4i situation. As part of the dispute, Microsoft had asked the patent office of the United States to re-examine the Office-related patent that had resulted in a $300+ million ruling against them back in December of 2009. According to i4i, the patent office has officially denied Microsoft's request.

According to Microsoft's Director of Public Affairs, Kevin Kutz, the Redmond based company is still planning to fight. "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."

Should this case make its way to the Supreme Court, things could get much more interesting. Still, with the way this case has gone so far, things aren't looking too good for Microsoft. In the meantime, Microsoft has been forced to remove the disputed technology from all of their infringing Office products and will continue adhering to that ruling.

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16 Comments

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Aethec said,
Patenting the fact you can do anything in XML ? That's stupid.
Not exactly. There's something called Custom XML which Microsoft was forced to issue a patch to remove. This is not the same as Open XML, which is what Office still uses. Custom XML, as pointed out by Mary Jo foley, is "technology for adding support for custom-designed schemas that is designed to integrate business data and processes with documents."

Benjamin Rubenstein said,
Not exactly. There's something called Custom XML which Microsoft was forced to issue a patch to remove. This is not the same as Open XML, which is what Office still uses. Custom XML, as pointed out by Mary Jo foley, is "technology for adding support for custom-designed schemas that is designed to integrate business data and processes with documents."

It's the same as using SVG tags in XHTML isn't it?

Benjamin Rubenstein said,
Not exactly. There's something called Custom XML which Microsoft was forced to issue a patch to remove. This is not the same as Open XML, which is what Office still uses. Custom XML, as pointed out by Mary Jo foley, is "technology for adding support for custom-designed schemas that is designed to integrate business data and processes with documents."

Isn't that something XML was designed for you to be able to do? The wording makes it sound akin to "technology for using HTML to create static web-pages".

CoMMo said,
So are they going to release patches for Office to remove certain abilities/features to adhere to this ruling?

Worst comes to worst they'll just keep it going till they drive i4i out of business. It's pretty clear Microsoft isn't going to give in here.

omnicoder said,

Worst comes to worst they'll just keep it going till they drive i4i out of business. It's pretty clear Microsoft isn't going to give in here.

No should they, this patent is holding back something so simple and useful and i4i isnt even using it.

omnicoder said,
The positive side is if this gets to the supreme court, it could be a step towards patent reform.

Only if independent third party's are also involved... if it's just Microsoft, chances are it will change but not for the better (IE parent hoarding companies become illegal but companies like MS that create legitimate products also have more protections to stifle competition.)

KavazovAngel said,

All do.

Didn't we have enough genius inventors who died in poverty while other people sold their inventions for millions?

still1 said,
Making money

That's what a patent is designed to do: give the inventor exclusive rights to develop a product and not be ripped of by others who copy and make minor adjustments, therefore promoting innovation. Major changes aren't considered to be patent infringing. However, software patents are being abused and therefore the whole system be reviewed or removed completely.