Patent ruling threatens Microsoft Office

Microsoft may have to pull its Office suite from the shelves in South Korea as a result of losing a patent lawsuit in that country, according to published reports. Several news outlets reported Monday that a South Korean Supreme Court ruling on Friday refused a request from Microsoft that patents obtained by Hankuk Aviation University professor Lee Keung-Haie in 1997 be nullified.

The decision strengthens the case of Lee and the company acting as his agent, called P and IB, which filed for damages against Microsoft in 2000 for infringing on Lee's patents, according to a report by the Agence France-Presse (AFP). Now that Microsoft's request has been struck down, P and IB leader Kim Kil-Hae said the company and Lee have a better chance at winning damages in their lawsuit and also in stopping the sale of the version of Office that includes the patented technology, according to a report by the AFP. Lee and P and IB are seeking damages of 70 billion won, or about $75 million.

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News source: InfoWorld

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21 Comments

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Nice to see them bit on the ass for the same garbage they are trying to do to others.

Software Patents are an abomination and suck, but still i laffed this time.

Lee and P and IB filed suit against Microsoft in 2000 for infringing on Lee's patents for technologies that automatically switch the input mode of Office between the Korean and English languages.

Consequences for actions South Koreans get to use English only Office

I dont feel sorry for them one bit.
They got what they deserve.
Ballme spreading FUD against Linux...now is Microsoft that violating a patent.
The irony...

doh: you're missing something...

If MS is forced to re-engineer some significant portion of the software, it could end up costing them many, many millions.

--h

I agree, there'd be more than one cost involved here if they win this case:
1. The penalty of $75 million.
2. The losses from having to pull it from shelves.
3. The re-engineering costs.

With the exception of ninjas, that they can (must) carry any weapons because they are so cool ;-)

Anyways, the only winners about software patent are the lawyers. They can earn millions with a software without put any finger in a keyboard.

I think that this is rather important for MS. Asian market as a whole is quite a nice slice of pie to be eating. With them having to withdraw even 1 particular version of a product from the shelves I think you'll see lots of other people coming out of the woodwork. Cause more unwanted press for MS.

Not that this is happening yet - just speculating.

$75 Million is only a fraction that MS earned using someone else's proprietary technology.

This is Why all Software Patents must stop. Remember that MS is the main pusher of Software patents, this is just law of action and reaction. We can expect more of this in future, maybe not in USA but there still is the rest of the world...look through what is MS going through in Europe.

Agreed. Software Patents are harmful to the industry, and to the consumers. It gives rise to Patent Trolls who sit on these things in a sort of Litigation Lottery, where they hope to score big.

Funny part is, when Microsoft was much younger, Bill Gates opposed software patents. I suppose it was because they were a young company and didn't have many of their own (and IBM held most of the cards in that department). Now, they seem to have gathered up a bunch of their own and seem to enjoy playing the Patent Game (even making vague accusations maligning their competition).

The only reason that MS supports software patents despite this crap against them, is because they expect their economy and lawyers to throw even more crap at those invading their ideas. So it's mostly a dirty business and little about easening innovations, which patents were believe it or not originally invented for. And yes, the scary part is that software patents are about mere features -- copyright laws already in effect cover the actual implementations. I don't really see a big reason to need any more protection than copyrights and trademarks. Sure, patents are good for all those cases where "but company X ripped off our idea!", but that's a price as a software developer myself I'm willing to take for otherwise having to walk on a legal minefield. I don't have the money to pay a lawyer to check the software patent landscape for every software feature I implement. As long as it's your own code and you aren't disassembling and taking copyrighted closed source or something, I'm happy.