08.21.09

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Robbery in the USPTO, More Software Patent Lawsuits, and Rise in ODF’s Popularity

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Finance, Fraud, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Patents at 3:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Software patents have been nothing but trouble for innovation. We the software engineers know this, yet we actually have full-blown posters in our break-room showcasing the individual engineers who came up with something we were able to push through the USPTO. Individually, we pretty much all consider the software-patent showcase poster to be a colossal joke.” —Kelledin, PLI: State Street Overruled… PERIOD

Summary: Where patents meet formats ODF is still winning

THE USPTO has earned little love for the fact that it permits people to gain a monopoly on algorithms, despite copyrights doing the job perfectly well. According to The Register, “Apple has filed a patent application that would enable iPhone users to transfer files and typed messages to others while speaking with them during a voice call.” That is another software patent for a company that uses them against Linux devices.

Corruption was found in the USPTO, which helps its reputation not at all. From The Washington Examiner:

Minister pleads guilty to stealing $500K from U.S. patent office

[...]

Court documents show that the patent worker stole a total of $534,338 over 32 transfers, 27 of which were to Reid. It is unclear from documents where the other $80,000 went.

Another company which people love (or love to hate) is being sued by TechRadium and Wired Magazine has the details.

TechRadium, a little known Texas-based player in the emergency mass-notification field, didn’t just wake up this month and decide to sue Twitter for patent infringement.

The company says it didn’t care about Twitter when the Twitterati was watching the tweets of NBA superstars, musicians, politicians and news outlets. But then TechRadium began seeing promotional materials and news accounts of companies, school districts and local governments using, or considering adopting, the microblogging service as their emergency notification system – muscling into TechRadium’s wheelhouse.

TechRadium’s lawsuit against Twitter was mentioned in [1, 2]. TechRadium also mutually sued Blackboard [1, 2], which was financially backed by Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4].

Speaking of companies that received funding from Microsoft, Finjan is one of them [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] and right now it is suing Microsoft’s competitor, McAfee. It’s about software patents again.

INSECURITY FIRM McAfee has been whacked with an extra $13.7 million in damages because one of its acquisitions infringed patents held by Finjan Software, a Delaware judge has decided.

Finjan is unlikely to ever sue Microsoft, which is — after all — its major backer. Finjan has been somewhat of a leech for quite some time.

Turning some attention to the i4i case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], there is no sign of remedy for Microsoft, yet.

MICROSOFT MUST BE PANICKED that its recent loss in a US patent lawsuit could dampen the retail launch of its massively hyped Windows 7 operating system on 22 October.

Last Friday it filed a sealed Emergency Motion asking for a stay of execution following its loss on 11 August in i4i v. Microsoft, a patent infringement lawsuit covering Custom XML.

BusinessWeek has this article on the subject. It mentions Microsoft’s misconduct in the courtroom.

In addition to the injunction against selling one of its most popular products, the court ordered Microsoft to pay $290 million in damages to i4i, including a fine of $40 million after the judge ruled that Microsoft’s lead lawyer in the case made misleading statements to the jury.

Microsoft appears to be pretending that people would be jammed without Word, but it could not be further from the truth. Just a free download away exists a solution; people can obtain a copy of one among many office suites, some of which do not even require downloading (SaaS). It must be terrifying to Microsoft — the thought that people would discover that there is choice. as one blogger put it:

Word ban threatens industry? Not mine

[...]

Really? Believe it or not, I have acknowledged that Microsoft Office is good enough to buy for power users. However, to say that there are no alternatives is obviously ridiculous. Can you say OpenOffice? Google Apps? Zoho? StarOffice? Lotus Symphony?

No office suite supports OOXML, not even Microsoft Office, which probably comes closest nonetheless. That too is a tremendous issue to Microsoft. Not only Word is in jeopardy but its file formats too; the patent problem is inherent in the format, which ODF does not suffer from.

ODF support can now be found in Storyist. From the news:

Storyist also has an impressive export capability in case your publisher wants to see the document in Word, Open Document, or several other formats. Screenplays can be exported to Final Draft, considered by many to be the industry standard for script writing.

There is also ODF support in JDBReport. From this new reference page:

Reports can be exported to HTML, Open Document Format (Text Document, SpreadSheet), Excel XML.Version 1.3 adds Export to PDF and RTF using iText and Export to MS Excel 2003 using Apache POI.

The Register brings back memories of what Microsoft did in Massachusetts.

Open access to data’s been a growing trend in government circles, thanks to the politics of who controls information. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts typified the move in 2005 when it said official documents must use the open document format (ODF), as Microsoft’s Word would lock documents into a format owned by a single company. This was before Microsoft’s Office Open XML (OOXML) formats.

Massachusetts went on to reverse the decision following lobbying from Microsoft and local political pressure, but other national and local governments in the US and world wide have been moving in the direction of using open formats.

Also in The Register, Gavin Clarke is pushing the Fraunhofer study, which is somewhat of a tool for promoting OOXML. Coming from Clarke, however, this is not particularly surprising. Microsoft keeps pushing the false perception that two formats are needed and that ODF is deficient. Well, yes… it is deficient… to Microsoft’s revenue.

“It’s a Simple Matter of [Microsoft’s] Commercial Interests!“

Microsoft on OOXML

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