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Microsoft is Again Paying the Huge Price for Wanting Anti-Free Software Laws

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 6:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Disputes go both ways

Summary: Microsoft wanted software patents and it got them… penalised time after time

THE INQUIRER says that “Microsoft [is] guilty of patent infringement” and it even adds a GIMPed version of Steve Ballmer to the article.

A TEXAS JURY has ordered Microsoft to cough up $200 million to Canadian collaborative content firm, i4i, for infringing on its patents.

The Register wrote about that too and so has AFP:

Microsoft has been ordered to pay at least $200m to i4i, a Canadian software firm for infringing patents in the way that Microsoft Word handles documents.


A jury in the US state of Texas ordered US computer software giant Microsoft on Wednesday to pay 200 million dollars to a Canadian company for patent infringement.

This news is pretty major, so it’s all over the place.

What is the take-home message? Well, it comes to show that Microsoft is holding a two-edged sword that may sooner or later have it regret the patent strategy against its #1 threat, Free software.

Yesterday we wrote about Microsoft’s artificial limitations patent and now we find Linux Magazine covering this from a FOSS perspective, which may be helpful.

With U.S. Patent 7,536,726, Microsoft has been granted a patent with which they hope to make a successful business model out of a potentially severely restricted operating system.

Some time ago we wrote about a patent lawsuit which targeted the Linux-powered Kindle. The latest news, as of yesterday, is that Amazon retaliates in defence.

Amazon lobbies a salvo back at Discovery Communications in response to the cable network’s patent infringement lawsuit over the Kindle.

This may be a little interesting because Linux runs the device which is attacked for being “electronic book with DRM”.

“The current “patent thicket,” in which anyone who writes a successful software programme is sued for alleged patent infringement, highlights the current IP system’s failure to encourage innovation” —Pr Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Laureate in Economics), IP-Watch

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  1. pcolon said,

    May 22, 2009 at 11:24 am


    “U.S. Patent 7,536,726″; This ain’t the bottom of the barrel yet. The amount of insipidity is a crucial clue into what’s happening generally in the good ole US of A. It’s not ‘MS bashing’ because MS is just a microcosm of corporate behaviour in general.

    Patenting an idea (Gee, I thought about it first in 199x) without implementation but I can put its description down on paper. This goes beyond being ludicrous, that is, even if you ignore prior art. It just shows you how broken the USPTO is. As kids when we had an ‘idea’ we used to call it ‘Fantasy’ or ‘Role Playing’ (Hollywood’s strengths). If you can’t innovate you put up obstacles against the people that could.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    There’s this new report about USPTO. It was rendered dead by endless greed and EPO is heading in the same direction.

    pcolon Reply:

    That is the shame where the worst of (negative residue), what’s supposed to protect is no where in the horizon, is being brought to the EU. Maybe if EPO looks at the results of USPTO and its short term greed, is not credible to a sound stable economy.

    If you handcuff your developers a “not innovated here (locally)” will in effect have you lose what would’ve been accredited to you to someone else and what would’ve been your income go elsewhere.

    We’re at an era where the bureaucrats of the 90s’ can’t keep up with the speed of the Internet yet that bureaucracy is the ball and chain of innovation amongst other things; freedom of expression, collaboration, sharing of ideas.

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