Summary: ODF and OpenOffice.org unaffected by the i4i dispute with Microsoft
THERE are minor new developments in the i4i saga [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] and also some important clarifications. As a direct result of the i4i case, the PFF expresses its objection to the Texan courts system, which is pretty major because this is where many patent trolls are thriving. More importantly, a statement is being made which confirms what we wrote about ODF and ODF-using software. Microsoft puppets like Burton and Gartner [1, 2, 3, 4] were totally wrong and they should be served crow for dinner, having created a lot of unnecessary fear among the ODF community.
ODF safe from Microsoft / i4i Lawsuit
Late last week, analysts from Gartner and the Burton Group expressed the opinion that ODF could also be in breach of a patent belonging to Canadian company i4i which, a court ruled, Microsoft had breached.
Other reporters, who have assumed that any use of XML could fall foul of the i4i patent, get short shrift from Hickins and others.
Last week, the pro-Microsoft Nicholas Kolakowski fueled the FUD from others in pro-Microsoft crowds/circles, probably in order to harm ODF. We refuted all this and offered some relevant background to defend our contentions. Right now, Kolakowski is at least man enough to publish a correction in eWeek based on/in relation to the article from eWeek Europe.
In an interview with eWEEK, i4i Chairman Loudon Owen and founder Michel Vulpe asserted that while they were determined to pursue their patent infringement case against Microsoft, many of the open-source community’s fears over the patent were unfounded.
So, we were right all along. Those Microsoft analysts had indeed been spreading fear which then propagated through less informed reporters on FOSS (whom we need not name again). It is usually best to ignore so-called analysts like Gartner and Burton, who act based on ‘faith’ and whoever pays their bills. It is known because we even have copies of virtual receipts.
Groklaw wrote about this subject too. The article goes further to explain that Microsoft hid what it knew could become patent trouble inside OOXML.
I have a question for Microsoft. Why didn’t they tell us about this i4i patent litigation during the OOXML ISO process? Didn’t we need to know?
Now what? Well, look at this, from Government Computer News:
i4i said it has looked at OpenOffice and found it doesn’t infringe on its patents.
So, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Straight from the horse’s mouth, so no need to look to any other part of the horse’s anatomy. No need for analysts’ opinions and such. OpenOffice.org is clean, according to the i4i folks, and it’s their patent. As for ODF, it doesn’t use CustomXML, and it had no plans to do so, despite what you’ve been reading in the fuddy papers.
You know what else was happening around March of 2007 and thereafter? Go to Groklaw’s ODF/OOXML chronology pages, and you’ll see. They were twisting Massachusetts’ arm to accept their competing format instead of just ODF, and their supporters were raising a stink about ODF not being easily accessible to the disabled.
Meanwhile, Microsoft was, we now know, in litigation that could make their format as submitted unusable by anyone in the entire US. And they never said a word that I ever heard. Anyone know about this patent case during the ISO ram-through of OOXML? Anyone? Maybe ISO needs to add this to their To Do List: find out if there are patents threatening a proposed standard. Or better yet, could someone take software and patents to Nevada and get them a quickie divorce? They’re not compatible.
Remember when the OOXML convenor Alex Brown said, after the OOXML approval, that he agreed ODF was cleaner than OOXML?
“I’d go with that. I think ISO/IEC 26300 (ODF 1.0) can be compared to a neat house built on good foundations which is not finished; 29500 (OOXML) is a baroque cliffside castle replete with toppling towers, secret passages and ghosts: it is all too finished.”
Well, it appears he was correct. ODF is cleaner. And now we know where one secret passage in OOXML leads. To a US courtroom, an injunction, and a $290 million judgment. Towers are toppling.
That’s the Microsoft we know and this is what people have come to expect.
In other patent news, the nuisance known as SpinVox [1, 2, 3, 4] seems to be crumbling. It is the company which claims to ‘own’ voice-to-text even though it probably was never invented there. Likewise, there is a company called VoloMedia which claims to ‘own’ audiocasing and TUAW has this new article about it.
The second round of patent wackiness occurred on Wednesday, when media analytics firm VoloMedia was granted a patent for the basic elements of podcasting. Patent number 7,568,213, “Method for providing episodic media content” was awarded Wednesday to Volomedia after almost 6 years of study by the Patent Office. Volomedia’s founder, Murgesh Navar, claims that the patent filing in 2003 was made “almost a year before the start of podcasting.”
Mentioned last week, we also saw the Europe Commission commissioning a study regarding the patent system. Here is an actual analysis of this move.
In political terms, this move of the EU Commission might indicate that they do want to have a take of their own on the topic of patent quality: Despite the fact that the European Patent Office (EPO) is working since many years on this aspect on their business, the EU Commission has decided to spend some money in order to obtain something like a second opinion independently from EPO.
When will the United States apply a similar “sanity check” now that the PFF seemingly calls for it? █
“[Y]ou’re creating a new 20-year monopoly for no good reason.”
–David Kappos, Director of the USPTO