Freelance writer and software developer Eric Wilson has spent a decade supporting, writing about and developing Microsoft platforms. But last week he warned that buyers of Microsoft's Office 2003, released last week, might be breaching his intellectual property rights. Wilson, who writes regularly for Next, said technology in Office 2003 infringed patents he had applied for and, in an action reminiscent of the global recording and movie industries' approach to piracy, said he would bypass Microsoft and instead pursue its customers for "additional royalties and special conditions". Microsoft Australia's director of corporate and legal affairs, Chris Woodforde, said the software company was "very confident" no claim would succeed against Microsoft or its customers. He said that if Microsoft needed technology from a developer, they would buy it and not risk infringement.
"Eric's a very respected developer and we've taken what he has to say very seriously," Woodforde said. "We've evaluated his claim and fully investigated and don't agree with it. "He has no issued patent and the reader view technology was available before he sought his patent. "As a company that relies on intellectual property, we respect intellectual property rights . . . and if we thought there was going to be any liability to our customers we would do something about it. If this technology was available we would buy it." Wilson said he found an infringement when he received the trial version, Beta 2, of the Office 2003 software, which Microsoft distributed to 500,000 people. Wilson told Microsoft Australia that its software breached three patents pending in the areas of "screen-paginated document display, electronic publishing and search result usage technology" but said he had not had a response from the company.
News source: The Age