EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

08.12.09

The Patent Trolls and McKool Smith Show Why OOXML and Software Patents Should be Shunned

Posted in Courtroom, Formats, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Patents, Red Hat at 8:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Spooky statue

Summary: McKool Smith and i4i may take Microsoft Word off the market — claim

THE SHORT story — for those who have not heard yet — is that Microsoft Word is banned — embargoed if you will (deja vu) — based on a court’s decision which will probably be reversed or mitigated by the time it comes into effect. David Gerard says that it “doesn’t take effect for 60 days, MSFT will certainly get it overturned. but amusing nevertheless!” McKool Smith is the shameless law firm and the so-called ‘victim’ is i4i. Microsoft’s patent dispute with i4i is not new, as it was previously mentioned in:

  1. Microsoft Accused of “Willful and Deliberate” infringement and “Discovery Misconduct” in Another Patent Case
  2. XML Patents, Microsoft Aggression, and ODF Hostility
  3. Microsoft is Again Paying the Huge Price for Wanting Anti-Free Software Laws
  4. Reader Explains “Microsoft Innovation”

Things have escalated somewhat now that McKool Smith, a patent troll litigator whom we mentioned when it attacked a Free software project and also when it attacked Microsoft, succeeds in blocking sales of Microsoft Office.

The national law firm of McKool Smith is announcing a permanent injunction and total damages and interest of more than $290 million against software giant Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) in a Texas patent infringement lawsuit won by Toronto-based technology provider i4i Inc.

The Order and Permanent Injunction were signed today by Judge Leonard Davis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division. Today’s ruling follows a May 20, 2009, verdict of $200 million after jurors found that Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft willfully infringed an i4i patent covering a document system that relies on the XML custom formatting function.

The patent at hand is an XML patent, of which Microsoft has several, as we previously (and more recently) noted in:

Harry McCracken, whom Microsoft gave a nice laptop, writes about this latest development.

In the latest apparent case of the U.S. patent system run amok, Judge Leonard Davis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a permanent injunction on Tuesday preventing Microsoft from selling versions of Word that handle custom XML in the form of the .DOCX, .DOCM, and .XML file formats. Which would mean that Microsoft is now forbidden from selling Word 2003 or Word 2007. And since it also forbids Microsoft from testing such versions of Word, there would seem to be implications for Office 2010 as well.

The Microsoft PR-ish blog from Seattle goes with the dramatic headline “Judge: Microsoft can’t sell Word anymore.”

Judge Leonard Davis, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, ordered a permanent injunction that “prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML,” according to an announcement by the plaintiff, Toronto-based i4i Inc.

Guess which other formats are impacted by this? Sun has an ODF (XML) plug-in for Microsoft Office and Microsoft has XML patents of its own. It is truly becoming a mess and none of those so-called ‘inventions’ are novel at all. As one person puts it, “Another patent problem: #Microsoft patented #XML-based file formats, which effects both #OOXML and #ODF #OpenOffice”

Ironically enough, Microsoft deserves some of the blame for this lawsuit against it. Microsoft was relentlessly lobbying in favour of software patents. As <No>OOXML puts it:

We may add that while Microsoft always pays lip service to patent reform and patent quality, it effectively obstructed even moderate steps of pragmatic reform in the field of software patenting with massive lobbying investment and an ideological agenda. An ideological motivation you don’t find among all the other players which have a real business. The massive lobbying also applies to colonial attitudes towards patent regimes of third nations in which the American company operates, or the European Union, our main area of operations as the FFII e.V. Ironically Microsoft itself is a favourite target of troll challenges and no one knows how much profits Marshall Phelps actually generates by selling their Microsoft FAT patents. In the spectacular case of TomTom we were told it was a very small amount. Some American critics as Brian Kahin speak of a patent bubble of low value patents but how is it going to burst? When you have a licensing business a good patent is one that hurts. Maybe the Encyclopedia Brittannica is an example, it failed commercially and now became an (unsuccesful) patent enforcement agency against actual market players.

In the recent referral G03/08 about software patentability an European Patent Office case named T 424/03 (Microsoft) was center to the debate. Find the Amicus letters here. Currently you also have a pending referral on Bilski in the US Supreme Court which is more far reaching than software. In the US many examination tests were dismantled such as the machine or transformation box test which opened the flood gates and unbalanced the system. It was reintroduced under the Bilski ruling but appealed at the supreme court. The Bilski test does not rule out software or business method patents but provides means to reduce the pressure within the examination system in later stages.

First you wreck the law, then the trolls wreck you.

[...]

Right now ISO/IEC 29500 (“OOXML”) is patent encumbered and cannot be called an “open standard” according to conventional definitions and looks unusable for the public sector.

It ought to be added that we found the blog of Microsoft’s Amruta Gulanikar, which bears the tag line “Office Interoperability”. Now, watch who is under “Blog Links”; it’s Microsoft employees and the usual lobbyists for Microsoft and OOXML, notably Jesper Lund Stocholm and Alex Brown. The complete list is:

Brian Jones

Dennis Hamilton

Alex Brown

Erika Ehrli

Gray Knowlton

Jesper Lund Stocholm

Stephen Peront

Doug Mahugh

They fail to even make the illusion that anyone except Microsoft (and partners) is accepting OOXML. There are a few exceptions.

In other patent news, the patent troll known as Acacia is still harassing GNU/Linux, based on this new report.

Red Hat, Novell Still Face Interface Patent Claims

Handing down a claim construction that accommodates the plaintiffs, a federal judge has refused to invalidate one of three user interface patents Linux providers Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc. allegedly infringe.

Software patents. It figures. Is anyone (other than patent lawyers and trolls) actually benefiting from them?

“[Y]ou’re creating a new 20-year monopoly for no good reason.”

David Kappo, Director of the USPTO

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

4 Comments

  1. Jose_X said,

    August 12, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Gravatar

    If software patents aren’t cut down and/or eliminated as a threat to FOSS before FOSS and commercial FOSS companies start suffering noticeably (due to enforcements or significant FUD), I will consider going into the lucrative patent creation business to try and make sure major supporters of software patents (eg, Microsoft and IBM) have a difficult time carrying out their profitable businesses whenever they violate any of my (future) patents.

    Rather than implementing things, I will spend the time as do these patent factories by dreaming up combinations of future uses of computers and electronics and trying to get the most general patents possible. I’ll consider creating free workshops and free online documentation to facilitate everyone else also getting enforceable patents. Even ordinary Joe can spot trends and work on a patent with a few technical individuals to split the profits later.. or help ground the US software industry to a halt.

    Software patents are likely unconstitutional (hinder not promote) and are unethical, but the US courts and Congress apparently aren’t clear on this yet.

    There are many talented FOSS devs that could be making millions to the loss of society and various profitable businesses if they dedicated their time to writing patents.

    Perhaps the contributors to a project that gets shut down because of patent threats should donate future time to writing patents to be used on major players like Microsoft that support software patents. Force Microsoft into a corner: injunction and lose ability to sell Windows and Office missing much interesting functionality (or having to spend billions retooling) or else have them help get the software patents declared unconstitutional. Only a company like Microsoft has enough at stake and enough money to fight your hungry lawyers all the way to the Supreme Court. If Microsoft folds, go after IBM, etc.

    [The funding for the patents will come if you build them. Lawyers will work for you in anticipation of winning settlements and off past winnings.]

    Why is it that writing a quality piece of interesting open source software requires so much more energy, creativity, study, commitment, skill, time, cooperation, etc, than writing a patent that will yield millions in revenues?

    I think the FOSS world is making a tactical mistake by not retooling to becoming patent generation machines instead of open source generating machines. Surely, the world will be better if we diverted our attentions into these monopolies and stopped writing free/free quality software, no?

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    There are many talented FOSS devs that could be making millions to the loss of society and various profitable businesses if they dedicated their time to writing patents.

    Perhaps the contributors to a project that gets shut down because of patent threats…

    There is an actual example of this, but it kept silent about it. Software patents have already shut down more FOSS projects.

  2. Jose_X said,

    August 12, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Gravatar

    How about a project to dissect Microsoft patents with the intent to patent as many interesting extensions of their “inventions”? If we spend enough time patenting in and around their playpen (plus whatever other good ideas come up), it will almost assure some good stuff will get patented. This way we can help put an end to, eg, dotnet, by forcing injunctions and or high royalties. This will lead to back-backlash and the software industry will grind to a halt unless the US Congress/Courts stop the madness.

    Of course, Microsoft is already patenting around their inventions like mad so that they own the cards and not someone else. That’s what IBM and everyone does when the build patents for “defensive” purposes. Of course, defensive patents turn offensive whenever you need some help in the market place or need to defend your turf or even monopolies (and associated high revenues). As if these large companies weren’t already powerful enough, they use the patent cards as well as necessary to gain more advantages over smaller competitors.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    How about a project to dissect Microsoft patents with the intent to patent as many interesting extensions of their “inventions”?

    There’s something similar.

    As if these large companies weren’t already powerful enough, they use the patent cards as well as necessary to gain more advantages over smaller competitors.

    IBM — like Novell — uses software patents to market even its ‘own’ Linux.

What Else is New


  1. Links 25/7/2016: Linux 4.7 Final, PostgreSQL 9.6 Beta 3

    Links for the day



  2. Leaked: Boards of Appeal Face 'Exile' or 'Extradition' in Haar After Standing up to Battistelli

    A look at some of the latest moves at the European Patent Office (EPO), following Battistelli's successful coup d’état which brought the EPO into a perpetual state of emergency that perpetuates Battistelli's totalitarian powers



  3. The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comes Across as Against Software Patents, Relates to the EPO as Well

    Some analysis of the input from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) with focus on the EPO and software patents



  4. In the US, Patent Trolls Engage in Patent Wars and Shakedowns, Whereas in China/Korea Large Android OEMs Sue One Another

    Highlighting some of the differences between the US patent system and other patent systems



  5. Links 24/7/2016: Elive 2.7.1 Beta, New Flatpaks and Snaps

    Links for the day



  6. Links 23/7/2016: Leo Laporte on GNU/Linux, Dolphin Emulator’s Vulkan Completion

    Links for the day



  7. Links 22/7/2016: Wine 1.9.15, KaOS 2016.07 ISO

    Links for the day



  8. Haar Mentioned as Likely Site of Appeal Boards as Their Eradication or Marginalisation Envisioned by UPC Proponent Benoît Battistelli

    Not only the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) is under severe attack and possibly in mortal danger; the increasingly understaffed Boards of Appeal too are coming under attack and may (according to rumours) be sent to Haar, a good distance away from Munich and the airport (half an hour drive), not to mention lack of facilities for visitors from overseas



  9. EPO Attaché Albert Keyack Viewed as Somewhat of a Mole, Reporting From the US Embassy in Brazil Until Shortly Before the Temer Coup

    Public responses to the role played by Albert Keyack on behalf of the United States inside the European [sic] Patent Office



  10. EPO Insiders Explain Why the EPO's Examination Quality Rapidly Declines and Will Get Even Worse Because of Willy Minnoye

    Public comments from anonymous insiders serve to highlight a growing crisis inside the European Patent Office (EPO), where experienced/senior examiners are walking away and leaving an irreplaceable bunch of seats (due to high experience demands)



  11. Patents Roundup: BlackBerry, Huawei, PTAB, GAO, Aggressive Universities With Patents, and Software Patents in Europe

    Various bits and pieces of news regarding patents and their fast-changing nature in the United States nowadays



  12. Glimpse at Patent Systems Across the World: Better Quality Control at the USPTO Post-America Invents Act (2011), Unlike the EPO Post-Battistelli (2010)

    While the EPO reportedly strives to eliminate pendency and appeal windows altogether (rubberstamping being optimal performance as per the yardstick du jour), the USPTO introduces changes that would strengthen the system and shield innovation, not protect the business model of serial litigants



  13. Blockstream Has No Patents, But Pledges Not to Sue Using Patents

    Blockstream says that it comes in peace when it comes to software patents, which triggers speculations about coming Blockchain patent wars



  14. Links 21/7/2016: Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS, Linux Mint 18 “Sarah” Xfce Beta

    Links for the day



  15. Links 21/7/2016: An Honorary Degree for Alan Cox, Looks Back at DebConf16

    Links for the day



  16. EPO USA: Under Battistelli, the 'European' Patent Office Emulates All the Mistakes of the USPTO

    Conservative Benoît Battistelli is trying to impose on the European Patent Office various truly misguided policies and he viciously attacks anyone or anything that stands in his way, including his formal overseers



  17. Links 19/7/2016: ARM and Opera Buyout

    Links for the day



  18. Large Corporations' Software Patenting Pursuits Carry on in Spite of Patent Trolls That Threaten Small Companies the Most

    With unconvincing excuses such as OIN, large corporations including IBM continue to promote software patents in the United States, even when public officials and USPTO officials work towards ending those



  19. Battistelli Has Implemented De Facto EPO Coup to Remove Oversight, Give Himself Total Power, and Allegedly Give UPC Gifts (Loot) to French Officials

    Benoît Battistelli's agenda at the EPO is anything but beneficial to the EPO and suspicions that Battistelli's overall agenda is transitioning to the UPC to further his goals grow feet



  20. EPO Social [sic] Report is a Big Pile of Lies That Responsible Journalists Must Ignore

    A reminder of where the EPO stands on social issues and why the latest so-called 'social' report is nothing but paid-for propaganda for Battistelli's political ambitions



  21. Links 18/7/2016: Vista 10 a Failure, FreeType 2.7

    Links for the day



  22. Exploiting Perceived Emergencies/Disasters, Suspending the Rule of Law, and Suspending Judges: How Erdoğan is Like Battistelli, Except the Coup

    Pretexts for crackdown on law-abiding people or figureheads who are remote and independent the hallmark not only of Erdoğan but also the EPO's President, Benoit Battistelli



  23. The Impotence of Gene Quinn

    Attacking the enforcer of Alice v CLS because it's doing harm to his source of income, which makes him angry



  24. After the FTI Consulting-EPO Reputation Laundering Deal's Expansion in Germany Süddeutsche Zeitung 'Forgets' That the EPO Even Exists

    Relative apathy if not complete silence regarding the EPO at Süddeutsche Zeitung following reports of FTI Consulting's deal expansion (media positioning in Germany), with hundreds of thousands of Euros (EPO budget) thrown at the controversial task



  25. Benoît Battistelli and Persistratos

    Reminds you of someone?



  26. Whistleblower Protection Desperately Needed at the European Patent Office

    EPO scandals are not publicly accessible or known to many people and not many such scandals are known at all because people are afraid of Battistelli's Fabius Maximus strategies



  27. Microsoft and Its Patent Minions at Nokia Still Have Patent Stacking Ambitions Against Android/Linux OEMs

    Weaponisation of European companies for the sake of artificial elevation of prices (patent taxes) a growing issue for Free/Open Source software (FOSS) and those behind it are circulating money among themselves not for betterment of products but for the crippling of FOSS contenders



  28. [ES] ¿Que si la EPO Bajo Battistelli Se Arruina Sin Posibilidad de Reparación Como la UPC?

    La última evidencia alrededor del hundimiénto de la reputación de la Epo y su calidad de trabajo, así como la caída del sistema que Battistelli trata forzadamente de imponer (una carrera al fondo)



  29. [ES] La EPO de Battistelli, Quién Quiebra la Ley, Subvierte el Curso de la Justicia y Rechaza Obedecer las Ordenes de la Corte Dice lo Impensable en Medio de los Actos de Terror

    Los terribles ataques hace un dia en Francia están siéndo explotados por el caradura de Benoît Battistelli para comedia negra o un verdaderamente absurda afirmación en la sección de “noticias” de la EPO



  30. [ES] La EPO de Battistelli Continúa Cortejando a Officiales de Países Pequeños y su Propaganda de Beneficiar a las “PYMEs de Aquellos Países”

    El caradura de Benoît Battistelli prosigue desfilando en los países pequeños que tienen delegados al Consejo Administrativo (CA) y los explota para propaganda barata, no sólo para que lo apoyen en las reuniónes del CA


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts