back to article Microsoft warns of 'irreparable harm' on court's Word injunction

Microsoft's warned it'll suffer "irreparable harm" and that "major public disruption" will result if it's forced to redesign Word to comply with a US court ruling. The company claimed the court's injunction will mean Office is kept out the market for months as it redesigns Word and the suite to remove an offending XML patent …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    Microsoft hasn't released a decent version of Office in years. Who cares?

  2. Kevin Johnston

    Dangerous tactic

    Customers, meanwhile, could be "stranded without an alternative set of software" - rather relies on the judge and his legal team being MS fanbois (and I swore I would never use that phrase) as otherwise they will just point to any number of alternative packages which have the ability to read MSOffice documents. That does of course raise the problem of whether these packages automatically fall foul of the same patent infringement but that will be left for another court and a fresh set of lawyers to earn their fees over.

  3. CypherCookie

    Open Office?

    I guess Microsoft aren't willing to acknowledge open office as a alternative?

  4. James 85

    Well Argued Document

    It is a well-argued document that identifies the stupidity of the judge who granted the injunction, the nonsense of the patent and the ignorance of the USPTO for granting a patent.

    You can despise Microsoft and still agree with what they are saying.

    The damages calculations are nonsense. What collection of slack-jawed, knuckle-dragging, transgeneration imbeciles came up with these numbers.

    You have to pity the Microsoft lawyers who have to travel to Fecal Swamps, Shitsville to try to make informed points in words with a fractional number of syllables so they can be understood by the cross-eyed, twitching, sister-loving, sheep-shagging jury.

  5. Ian Stephenson

    Customers, meanwhile, could be "stranded without an alternative set of software"

    Other than Open Office?

  6. kbb
    Thumb Up

    Great defence

    So now the community knows what defence to use if Microsoft come knocking at the door waving patents at Linux. What's good for the goose...

  7. Doug Glass

    Since When ...

    ... is using what you have (or a competent alternate) a "major public disruption"? This man is totally out of touch with the computing public. If I were told I couldn't buy a new Chevrolet, I'd just keep driving what I have now or buy a Ford, BMW or whatever. Compatibility issues can be worked out and there is a work-around after all.

    Stevie boy must be experiencing a low blood potassium level; we need to send him more bananas.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Anonymous Title

    First off I'm an OpenOffice user, have been for many years now and am a fan of the product ... I use Linux and Solaris (and grudgingly Windows occasionally) ...

    I am not a fan of Microsoft or of Microsoft Office ...

    However this court ruling (and others) really are going too far!

    I'm a little surprised that they haven't brought in prior art on this, we've got a few different versions of stuff that did this (not in XML or course, but in markup) going back to the mid 70's sitting in our office.

    We're not going out of our way to tell Microsoft that though :)

  9. John 118
    Gates Halo

    Boo fcuking hoo

    IF Microsoft have effectively stolen this portion of the code that relates to this XML, then lost revenue, millions of $$ of sales lost ... then Boo Hoo, my heart bleeds.

  10. TuxInvader

    What goes around....

    I thought Microsoft were in the camp that thought software patents were good for the industry?? It's kind of Ironic that they get stung with an XML patent shortly after being issued with their own pointless, unintuitive, farcical XML patent: "Word-processing document stored in a single XML file that may be manipulated by applications that understand XML".,571,169.PN.&OS=PN/7,571,169&RS=PN/7,571,169

    So they used XML for defining a method to use and store data.... How ingenious, I bet no one has ever used XML to do that before. <expletive deleted>!

  11. Red Bren

    In other news...

    Mafia bosses complain that not being allowed to break the law cause "irreparable harm" to their "legitimate" business, their associates and the victims they exploit.

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Boo Hoo

    And cry me a river. Mentioning the retail channel as an excuse is particularly patronizing on Microsoft's part, given what we know about their sales contracts.

    Its like the schoolyard bully getting caught hitting a kid half his size, then arguing that, if punished, said kid won't get his quota of daily exercise. Ridiculous.

    And what is it with Microsoft lawyers ? Is there a special screening procedure at Redmond in order to only retain the pricks ? I can't understand why the judge doesn't string them up for contempt.

  13. Syneil

    I may hate m$oft

    but this case was nonsense; both the arguments made and the ruling. Of course customers will have alternatives, and to claim they wouldn't, publicly, is nothing more than a sales pitch (and false advertising?).

  14. mrweekender

    Scare mongering tacticts - again....

    "Even if Microsoft ultimately succeeds on appeal, it will never be able to recoup the funds expended in redesigning and redistributing Word, the sales lost during the period when Word and Office are barred from the market, and the diminished goodwill from Microsoft's many retail and industrial customers."

    Tough shit - if you live by the sword you die by the fucking sword.

    ...Microsoft said would cause a "major public disruption"

    Erm no - I'll just use Open Office or iWork like I always do.

  15. Richard Rae

    "stranded without an alternative set of software"


    Open office anyone?

  16. Matt Bucknall


    does MS not just pay royalties to i4i? I don't really see why they are making so much fuss.

  17. Bad Beaver

    Also, milk will turn sour and there will be a gigantic tidal wave...

    "stranded without an alternative set of software"

    You've got to hand it to them, they've got their drama straight. Regardless of that they should have checked the IP in the first place — why not force them to put out a simple software-update within a certain timeframe?

  18. Anonymous Coward


    "Customers, meanwhile, could be "stranded without an alternative set of software""

    That is all

  19. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    I hope they lose, bwuhahaha!

    Seriously, this is possibly the most broken patent ruling ever. It appears to cover the use of XML to encode metadata, the separation of form from content (with the possibility of several presentation forms for the same content) and the use of WORD as a generic XML editor.

    If the patent is allowed to stand, then pretty much all US companies (not just MS) will be barred from using XML for just about anything. Result!

    Of course, the judge is a complete idiot and should never be allowed to sit on a patent case ever again, but what's new?

  20. Golodh

    Stranded without alternative set of software ...

    It's a hooter. Microsoft being soooo worried about customers who would be "stranded without alternative set of software" if MS Office weren't on sale.

    Pardon me? MS Office has an absolute monopoly then? Err ... didn't Microsoft claim that it's working in a software eco-system which has has "healthy competition"? Gosh. My mistake.

    And there was me thinking that Open Office (which according to i4i *doesn't* infringe on their XML patent !) was an acceptable alternative. Well ... apparently not when Microsoft is trying to reverse a perfectly normal court decision. It will be again when the US and EU anti-trust authorities come sniffing around again, don't you worry. Stands to reason surely.

    And Microsoft's unethical antics to stuff the ISO panels with bribed supporters to have its XML offerings declared not only a "standard" but also an "Open Standard" (despite MS Word's totally proprietary document format being buried in the XML specs)? Those weren't detrimental to customers? Oh dear!

    And why oh why didn't Microsoft disclose that it had a lawsuit running against it when it touted its XML format as the new standard? Isn't that something that an ISO panel ought to know about? Well ... not if it's to *adopt* your standard obviously. Any remaining patent wrinkles can be ironed out later surely?

    Hehe this is the Microsoft of old we've come to know and love. Funny how a company can get away with misrepresentation that would get any natural person jailed. But such is life in Commerce. If anyone ever complains, it's a "miscommunication" ... that or we'll blame the secretary. Any secretary.

  21. raving angry loony


    In other words, Microsoft would like to keep stealing and trying to drive i4i out of business. They not only want to have their cake and eat it, they want i4i's cake and eat that one as well, without any sanctions or penalties.

    I'm quite curious as to how the courts will react. US courts are extremely politicized, so it's really a toss up.

  22. ChrisInBelgium

    boot... foot...

    It hurts when the boot is on the other foot, doesn't it?

    Software patents are rubbish, and the quicker the US patent system takes this into account, the better.

  23. Hugh_Pym

    Pot, Kettle, Black.

    enough said.

  24. DaveStockdale

    Future precedent...?

    If they don't have to redesign it, then clearly they can get away with violating any patent they like in future developments of... well... anything. Because after they've done it, it'll be too late. Redeveloping it to remove said violations will then cause even more 'irreparable harm'.

    Patents. Protecting your inventions since 1449*.

    *unless Microsoft wants them.

  25. Bilgepipe
    Gates Horns

    Major Public Disruption?

    I doubt it. There are very clear alternatives, even if only temporary ones while Office is not available. A quick Google search will find frer or cheap alternatives to Office. The disruption will be to M$'s sales, and who cares about that other that Ballsmer and the shareholders?

    And I wonder how many of these disrupted citizens would be actually buying afresh rather than upgrading and existing install? It's not too difficult to stick with your old version for a while until M$ pull their thumbs out of their arses and either pay their dues to i4i or get a new version out.

    Plus it'll give other smaller office products a chance, too, no bad thing IMO. Office isn't the only retail office system around.

  26. Christopher Rogers

    Does this open the door

    For OO? Google?

  27. jake Silver badge

    Yeah, and so?

    "Customers, meanwhile, could be "stranded without an alternative set of software""

    Customers who have bought into MS-Office by definition have access to the Microsoft software, and probably have it installed. They are hardly stranded if they are already running it. I'll leave the "alternative set of software" bit alone, as it's hardly necessary in this scenario ...

    "during the re-development work that Microsoft said would cause a "major public disruption"."

    Why? Me & mine (personally), and most of my clients have been happily not running Microsoft software for years, with absolutely no disruption.

    "This pain would prove a "complete waste of time" should Microsoft ultimately win on appeal."

    So Microsoft agrees that there is more than a possibility that Microsoft will not win? Sounds to me like Microsoft is running scared ...

  28. Andy 97

    Were their patent department asleep?

    Erm, did this other company take out a retrospective patent in the hope of 'sticking it' to MS?

    I am amazed that MS didn't do their homework better on this.

    Someone in the legal/patent department will be looking for alternative employment I would assume.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    All those preloaded "free trials"... ouch!

    There must be loads of machines percolating through the channel that have the Office 2007 "ransomware" preloads. It will be fun to watch the offending OEMs scramble to remove them... schadenfreude here we come!

  30. Juillen 1

    But.. But.. It's US, not THEM!

    So, Microsoft is known for 'partnering' with small companies, running them dry of cash by not filling their end of the bargain and preventing any release because it's a "shared product", and when they fold, using their ideas for free. Or just taking what they want anyway and using their legal teams to drown any complaints (or in the cases that get through the courts, they just stump up cash from their overflowing war chest and ignore it, as that's money they always owed anyway, and they can always increase the product cost).

    Now, a court has said "Enough, I'm going to really do something that makes you sit up and listen by doing unto you what you do to others", and they just go on about "Irreparable Harm". A small taste of what they've done to countless other companies.

    I don't happen to like the way software patents are implemented (c'mon, 25 years for something that'll be obsolete and forgotten in 5-10?). If they're there at all, a maximum of 3-5 years should be as much as you get. That's a lifetime is software.. But that's another story.

    Something just seems to have that "Live by the lawyer, die by the lawyer" feel about it here.. Hopefully the legal wing have developed a backbone and are now saying "We'll apply the law uniformly. Here's what you lobbied for, now know how it feels".

  31. Jaap stoel

    So everyone's gotta stop using word?

    I'd say MS is overreacting. They could perhaps, buy a license? Oh wait, they are probably too cheap for that.

  32. Dunhill

    business model?

    I thought that 'irreparable harm' was/is part of the microsoft business model

    Just like sue-ing the hell out of everybody else microsoft doesn't like


    >> Microsoft has said in a court filing to stay the injunction: "Even if Microsoft ultimately succeeds on appeal, it will never be able to recoup the funds expended in redesigning and redistributing Word, the sales lost during the period when Word and Office are barred from the market, and the diminished goodwill from Microsoft's many retail and industrial customers."

    We know a bunch of companies that microsoft "killed/demolished" that way

    and that a number of companies like "Best Buy, Hewlett-Packard and Dell" "face the imminent possibility of a massive disruption in their sales"

    Yes good one, take responsibility for that, YOU, microsoft sold broken/stolen goods to them, don't blame others for your actions.


    So, about what is microsoft crying now ?

    OpenOffice next ? I don't think so, SUN did not make $$$$$ out of the xml use

    But time will tell ..


  33. Goat Jam


    May I be the first to say, boo-fricking-hoo.

    Suck it up Monkeyboy and Co. You are the guys who reckon that these stupid software patents are a great idea so I have zero fucking sympathy for you when they come back and bite you on your fat corporate arse.

    The day you scumbags start lobbying for the end of software patents is the day that I might start considering the merest possibility of entertaining a slight modicum of empathy for your self created situation.

    In the meantime, you can all go and bite me.

  34. Wrenchy


    It is nice to see the shoe on the other foot! Must feel nice to have a patent violation rammed down your throat after decades of ramming it down others'.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    quit f***ing whining and pay the licence fee then

    If it's going to cost MS so much money and effort to fix Word to get around the patent infringement why not just pay to licence it (or whatever it is you do when you use patented stuff).

    Then design it out of the next version. Gah.

    Of course i could be missing something here... maybe i need another coffee...

  36. Real Ale is Best
    Gates Horns

    BooHoo BooHoo

    What a personal disaster!

    I mean, really. They've threatened other businesses with their patents. Seems they can't take it themselves....

    Oh, and shouldn't they have mentioned the court case when they were buying all the votes, I mean lobbying for OOXML to be made a standard?

    Oh look, ODF doesn't infringe the patent...

  37. dracnoc


    "Microsoft", "Word", "Office" - nope, I can't say having a lack of any of these products are causing me major disruption.

    Oh well, life carries on - as normal.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Your recommended daily dose of irony

    Interesting conundrum here - if I were to, say, make money by selling multiple copies of pirated MS Office and got caught doing it, MS would claim "irreparable harm" when prosecuting me and seeking damages. At the same time, MS steals someone's technology and makes money out of it but claims "irreparable harm" when forced to stop its illegal activities. Is there not irony here somewhere?

    Paris, 'cause even she would recognise such hypocrisy.

  39. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    But software patents are only good?

    But we were told that software patents are good and the only way to safeguard software, so there can´t be a problem.

    Besides, from what I´ve seen they are only upset by the new version of Office. MS (& partners) could simply restart shipments of office 2003, which is all a number of customers want anyway, so all the doom and gloom for parters and business is not so bad.

    On another point, since copyright only exists to allow the copyright holder to exploit the copyrighted works, if MS fails to exploit the copyright on Office 2003, by refusing to sell (license) it, does that mean that they have forfeigted the copyright?

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Are we supposed to feel sorry for them?

    I don't like software patents because they lead to these sort of stupid law suits. But Microsoft love them, they live for software patents and use them to get money from other companies. If the emails that have been released are true then MS knew about this patent when they were designing the newer versions of Word and they wilfully ignored it.

    So they knew the risks, they knew that they were infringing someone else's patent, and now its come back to bite them on the arse, and they're complaining saying its not fair and it will hurt them.

    Tough fucking luck frankly.

  41. Tom 7


    I hope it does harm Microsoft and partners. Its time people used their computers as computers and not filing cabinets.

    Office software - the man with the red flag walking in front of your matter transporter.

  42. Stephen Stagg

    Software Patents

    So, software patents are bad and stifle competition/development.... but only when they are used against Microsoft.

  43. Anonymous Coward

    'irreparable harm' to Microsoft?

    But apart from that, why *else* is it a good idea?

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Awwww, diddums!

    Or they could use some of their billions to settle with the patent holder, like they forced TomTom to do.

  45. Robert E A Harvey

    Well, tough

    This is where Software patents get you. Learn & weep. And stop forcing governments to be part of your marketing department.

    >Customers, meanwhile, could be "stranded without an alternative set of software"

    Well, what do you think Richard Stahllman has been talking about all these years?

    I bet a few people can suggest some alternatives in any case. Learn & weep

  46. Charles Manning


    Pay the license fee, buy them out,...

  47. Kit-Fox

    Pay no attention to the GNU licenced software behind the curtain

    I'm sorry but where exactly does MS get s its legal/pr flacks from?

    'Customers, meanwhile, could be "stranded without an alternative set of software" during the re-development work that Microsoft said would cause a "major public disruption".'

    Have they not heard of Open Office or are they simply choosing to ingnore that at least one free alternative exists to MS office products not to mention I sure the many other such as Emacs or even other proprietary software that you have to pay for.

  48. Big-nosed Pengie

    In other words

    "We're too big to have to comply with the law."

  49. Hayden Clark Silver badge
    Gates Horns

    So if customers have "no alternative office suite"...

    ... shouldn't the DoJ get involved? Price controls on MSOffice? enforced license-free interoperability docs?


  50. Daniel 1

    It's not so much an 'XML patent', as such

    The patent concerned may appear to describe a fairly generic set of XML operations - and upholding it would be draconian and unfair, if it could be applied to those operations in a generic fashion. However (as with the nature of protective patents), it actually describes the actions performed by a specific piece of software - a Word plugin which i4i marketed to the pharmaceuticals industry throughout the early part of this decade. As such, the patent could probably only be usefully employed to define the functionality of this software, in particular, in cases where the functionality was alleged to have been stolen. i4i assert that the functional behaviour of their plugin was directly and deliberately copied into the core of Word, by Microsoft, who then actively marketed the copied functionality at the Pharmaceuticals industry - often using examples and documentation which bore a startling similarity to those originally published by i4i. None of these facts have helped Microsoft's case, in a courtroom (Tyler Texas) which was already notorious for finding in favour of plaintiffs in patent cases. Essentially, this appears to be another example of Microsoft turning on a partner, whom it originally encouraged to exend and improve the functionality of its products, and deliberately stealing the new business opportunities that the partner company had discovered for them. The fact that Microsoft asserts that removing this functionality from Word would be a giganntic effort simply attests to the fact that Microsoft's product range has become clumsy, top-heavy, and difficult to maintain (a practice of copying and assimilating any functionality that has proven remotely useful or profitable, to anyone else, probably has not helped, in this regard).

  51. Anonymous Coward

    What's the problem

    They have been found guilty, they should comply with the judgment. People found guilty of murder don't get to stay out of jail/electric chair until they have exhausted all means of appeal.

  52. gerryg

    Microsoft's peculiar logic

    Everyone and their dog has got an opinion on the strength of Microsoft's case, the worth of USPTO and the quality of the i4i patent. It reminds me of the George Burns joke about it being a real shame that all those that should be running the country are too busy cutting hair and driving taxis.

    What I do not understand is way the rule of law is dismissed.

    In the Court their lawyers are chastised for misrepresenting the law

    Out of Court they dismiss the ruling on the basis that the law is what they say it is.

    My understanding is that the particular injunction granted is unusual, someone must have thoight about it.

    The response that "the ruling is rubbish, we'll have to do all this nugatory work and won't be able to sell stuff until we can get before a real Judge" seems to be more of the same.

    Having to comply with the law seems to be so much more inconvenient than throwing money at a problem to make it disappear.

    Perhaps we should be thanking the Judge for causing that.

    Don't expect this to contribute to the demise of software patents, those with money prefer a system they can exploit, as in the end the cost is passed on to the customer.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Message to Steve Ballmer

    Workaround for Microsoft Word injunction. Microsoft knowledge base number to be allocated. If you are unable to purchase Microsoft Word due to injunction, or lack of funds, or unwillingness to pay for bloated ineffecient software, please download Sun Open Office (search web for 'download Sun Open Office'). It's free and does 99% of what Microsoft Office does. If Microsoft Word becomes available again, ask yourself why you need to pay for something that isn't that much better than free software.

  54. Kevin Gurney
    Thumb Down

    Business Impact

    Most Office users are commercial concerns rather than home users.

    If I need to buy extra Office licenses and I'm not able to then there is a business impact. I'm not going to abandon the 100's of licenses that I already own and I'm not going to uninstall my existing Office installations and start installing Open Office.

    Microsoft may be getting whats coming to them but they are correct that there will be a huge worldwide business impact by stopping it's sale.

    And lets face it, they've got MS over a barrel as regards selling them a license. If you were in that position, how many billions of dollars would you ask for ????

  55. Stephen McLeod Blythe


    "On another point, since copyright only exists to allow the copyright holder to exploit the copyrighted works, if MS fails to exploit the copyright on Office 2003, by refusing to sell (license) it, does that mean that they have forfeigted the copyright?"

    Naw. If I take a photo in a studio but never sell/use it anywhere, it doesn't mean someone can come along and use it as they please - I still retain the copyright - it's not tied in to what you do with it; that's down to you.

  56. Saucerhead Tharpe

    @kbb it isn't the same

    MicroSoft threaten Linux saying they have patents, but do not reveal them.

    They use the threat to damage Linux and thus do not want their claims examined, in case those claims are found to be false, or thr penguinistas redesign the code so as not to infringe the patent

  57. This post has been deleted by its author

  58. Tim Williams 2

    I Hope MS Win

    Just a thought but is the application of this patent specific to the way that Word and OOXML work, or could it be applied to other Word processing software which operates in a similar way using XML based file formats ? As a OpenOffice/Linux user I would be concerned if MS lost this case.

  59. Anonymous Coward

    Bad for everyone - even open source software

    While Microsoft is obviously at fault legally and has no option but to pay the $200 million, this could equally well happen to open source software - what if i4i felt that OpenOffice infringed their patents and took out an injunction banning its distribution? Then no more using Open Office documents on computers that don't already have it installed (I'm sure you could pick up an OO binary from somewhere, but I'm sure you can get Word from some strange men down the market too).

    Since Word and OO are not fully compatible, neither is a substitute for the other. As a result of this, there will be businesses who have millions of pages of Word documents unable to let new employees actually read these documents without some circuitous file-conversion. Sadly I fear that Microsoft's EULAs mean companies in this position can't even sue them for damages in such circumstances.

  60. Banditodagger

    Open office

    Open office works just fine, for those wondering what the alternative is.

  61. gerryg

    @Kevin Gurney

    "Microsoft may be getting whats coming to them but they are correct that there will be a huge worldwide business impact by stopping it's sale."

    No, any worldwide business impact arose because affected businesses chose to rely upon a single supplier for an application that they've allowed to become mission critical.

    Perhaps these businesses will learn the importance of interoperability and substitutability and consider using ODF and planning for legacy document conversion

    "And lets face it, they've got MS over a barrel as regards selling them a license."

    I don't believe anyone forced Microsoft to use the technology in the first place.

    "If you were in that position, how many billions of dollars would you ask for ????"

    The maximum possible consistent with it being cheaper to use my technology rather than replace it. I believe it's called "the market".

  62. Saucerhead Tharpe

    i4i gave OpenOffice the all clear

    Because OpenOffice doesn't use CustomXML, so dragging in OOO is wrong

  63. gerryg

    @bad for everyone


    From "Government Computing News"

    "i4i said it has looked at OpenOffice and found it doesn’t infringe on its patents."

    and that will be because ODF avoids the technology and relies on metadata

  64. Anonymous Coward

    @Well Argued Document #

    Not that well argued:

    "In practice Word's custom XML functionality is used by a small niche of customers" (p. 13)

    So get rid of that functionality and everything will be OK, yes? That way you'd only be inconveniencing a small number of customers as opposed to the hordes of customers battering down MS's door every day in their attempts to purchase Word 5 billion & 6 (or whichever dumbass numbering system they're using today).

    Also this injunction will not inconvenience me as I own an old copy of Word (Office 97, I think) which suffices for all my Word-ly wants.

    Also I neither like nor desire the new "You're too stupid to operate a menu consisting of words so here are some big bright shiny buttons for you to gaze at while your spittle drips off your chin" version of Word.

    Furthermore I feel no pain for Microsoft lawyers who in all probability earn more in one year than I will in ten. If they have to work hard to get that money well that suits me just fine. And judging from the argument I've cited above they're not working that hard anyway.

  65. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    An odd view?

    "Even if Microsoft ultimately succeeds on appeal, it will never be able to recoup the funds expended in redesigning and redistributing Word, the sales lost during the period when Word and Office are barred from the market, and the diminished goodwill from Microsoft's many retail and industrial customers."

    Just look at the wording of that opening phrase "Even if Microsoft ultimately succeeds on appeal". That phrase suggests to me that the speaker does not expect Microsoft to succeed in its appeal.

    The rest of it seems to indicate that the speaker does not seem to understand the concept of being punished for a transgression. So lets step away from legalese and stick to simple language even MS can understand: The whole damn point of a punishment is that it should do lasting harm you fucktards! Otherwise why would the courts bother to punish at all?

    Finally a court has found a way to punish Microsoft effectively. Simple fines will do no lasting harm to a company the size of MS, they probably build it into their annual budget. However harm their sales and you're hitting them where it hurts.

  66. Michael C

    Lack of integration would hurt our firm

    Yea, there are other options, but we have MASSIVE investments in document management systems, document collaboration systems, and user training in those systems. We're working on reasearching processes to move to open source editors and open formats, but unfortunately, without the plug-in options available Microsoft currently provides, this means writing our own complete DCM solution, or binding into one of those that work with OpenOffice or another solution. Fact is, we might be able to save 4-5 million every 2 years not buying SA upgrades for Office, but any way we slice it, rearchitecting our DCM solutions is going to cost many times that if we move away from SharePoint, Exchange, and other existing developed code and processes. We estimate DCM saves us more than the licences cost, both in terms of man hours, and in document archiving and disaster recovery costs.

    The solution? 1: force microsoft to decouple the infringing code, in all future versions (including Office 2010 soon to be released, even if that means delaying that product to do it). 2: In addition to the $200m fine, Microsoft pays $10 per licence distributed of Office 2003 and Office 2007 from October 10 forward to the owner of the patent. (regardless of the method; VL, SA upgrades, Technet copies, etc; any licence key activated for any reason, even freely distributed ones). 3: With #2 in place, Microsoft is considered "licenced" for the technology for the versions that already contain it.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You've not heard of standardising of hardware and software within companies? It's standard behaviour in any medium to large company. You get volume discounts and the abillity to know that everything works with everything else for minimum effort.

    Many companies use tens, hundreds or thousands of Word document templates and macros, this can't just be converted to OO at the flick of a switch. There will be major implications to this decision and it aint a good one for OO either.

  68. Simon B

    You shouldn't have nicked someone elses stuff!!

    Microsoft's warned it'll suffer "irreparable harm" and that "major public disruption" will result if it's forced to redesign Word to comply with a US court ruling.

    Customers, meanwhile, could be "stranded without an alternative set of software" during the re-development work that Microsoft said would cause a "major public disruption".

    Then you shouldn't have nicked someone elses stuff!!!

  69. Gordon is not a Moron

    Re: Saucerhead Tharpe

    All XML is custom, that part of it usefulness and why i4i are just patent trolls.

    Also if you are going to mug, sorry 'sue' someone, it's a waste of time going after people who don't have any money. It'll cost a bucket load in legal fees and you'll have nothing to show for it.

  70. Eddy Ito


    So which is it then? a.) The older versions would stop working. b.) The copies they already have would stop working. c.) People might find out they don't need to upgrade after all.

    Is it really an issue to ask for a file in 2003 format or even 97 for that matter? People ask me to resend files in different formats all the time. Sure you are bound to run into some dolt who can't figure out what "Save As" does but that must be rare by now.

    As for MS, suck it in, stand tall and hand "eye for an eye" the license money. You can cry in your beer later.

  71. John G Imrie

    @Gordon is not a Moron

    Er you haven't actually read the Patent, or have someone else read it and explain it to you have you.

    CustomXML is a very specific set of XML and tools that i4i developed to work with MS Word. The Patent covers only this very narrow field.

    According to the Court documents MS new about the Patent before ramming OOXML down the ISO's throat, CustomXML is included it in the OOXML specification.

    So MS willfully abused the Patent, succeeded in getting technology to which they did not own passed as part of an ISO standard and now are crying that the nasty Judge is steeling them to give the stolen property back.

    I think you need to change your Nick. I suggest dropping the 'not'

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given That...

    Most companies software refresh cycle has then only just implementing office 2007 and in most cases keeping 2003 for the forseeable future it's not going to cost them that much shirley.

  73. Number6

    Only in the US

    If it's a software patent then I don't think they can affect MS sales outside the US because they don't have a valid patent to enforce.

    Open Office would come under the same rules - it could be offered for distribution by people outside the US and the US courts would find it hard to do much about that. Remember PGP and similar cases? Once it was outside the US, the rest of the world just ignored the US rules and patents on the subject and used it freely, often to the detriment of US companies.

    As for MS, serves them right. DRDOS, OS/2, and a long line of other stuff they've beaten into the ground by dodgy practice, nice to see they're suffering a bit. Their lawtyers have to rant, it's part of what they get paid for. After all, if they went to Ballmer and told him he's got no chance of winning, they'd be out the door with no more money and would be replaced by someone who was prepared to say there was a chance of winning. It's all a big game played by people with deep pockets.

  74. gerryg


    Yes, I have heard of standardisation, It's because of standardisation that I don't need to know who made the plugs and sockets.

    In software the definition got stretched to enable single vendor lock-in.

    When all these companies were "standardising" were you one of the those failing to advise them of the risks associated with such an approach? All those costs that were "saved" seem to have been merely displaced to somewhere else.

    Remind me why it's also bad news for OOo?

  75. /dev/me

    Of the valorous attempt of Lawyers to prevent a terrifying outbreak of major public disruption.

    "major public disruption" sounds to me as if they expect riots in the streets o_O

  76. Cameron Colley

    So far down I won't be read!

    But, surely, Dell et al. Can sue for being sold software that is illegal? Also, couldn't any company reliant on the avaliability of recent versious of office sue MS also? If the answer to either is no then the parties involved have crap lawyers and we're better of without them.

  77. JohnG


    Surely MS could devise a patch fairly quickly to disable the customXML features in Word 2003 and Word 2007 (e.g. disable the use of .DOCX files)? The document management systems I have come across are still using .DOC.

    Maybe ISO will now drop the proprietary MS definition for a genuinely open document standard - but perhaps that would be too embarassing for them.

  78. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why cannot MS do what........

    ordinary folks do and BUY, you know Bill part with some cash, what they need rather than simply take it. I HATE these large companies who think they own everything and that they do not need to pay for anything.

  79. Martin Edwards

    OpenOffice a viable alternative, are you serious?

    Am I the only one here who couldn't honestly recommend OpenOffice to anybody? Every time I've used it I've been stumped by the lack of what should be commonplace features, and UI behaviour that feels a decade old. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't OO lack the ability to visually crop images, or adjust character spacing, for example?

    I look forward to OpenOffice being a true Microsoft competitor (and hopefully Ubuntu too, for that matter). But I think this moment is still a little while away.

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never mind the free, and other, stuff...

    Those of us that have absolutely no need, or intention, of ever upgrading from Office 2000 are not going to be in the least inconvenienced by this.

    Not everyone is mesmerised by the latest interface change or obscure bunch of unwanted functions that MS touts as "upgrades"

  81. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart


    Pointy Hair Boss of Mega Corp PLC: (Just back from marketing lunch) We need to upgrade our 100,000 PCs to Vista and and the latest version of Word.

    PFY: Sorry, can't do that, Word is subject to a legal case for infringing copyright, anyway we haven't finished upgrading from NT to XP and IE6.

    PHB: OK, Let's do something useful with the money instead....

  82. Lotaresco


    Over sixteen years ago I made a small income from selling an "add-in" that I created for Excel. Microsoft later produced a remarkably similar add-in using remarkably similar code and gave it away with Excel. When I pointed out that this seemed to be copyright infringement I got a "so what sue us, we've got more resources than you have" reply. So umm.... I'm sort of glad to see them getting what seems like over-due just desserts. I suspect I'm not alone.

  83. deegee

    could go either way

    For anyone who has actually taken the time to look into this further, it is an interesting case.

    What gets me is the nebulous patent that was filed.

    Firstly, XML is already open, so no one should be able to patent anything regarding XML unless it is a significant technological change.

    Secondly, so i4i couldn't patent their use of XML itself so they came up with a patent for "a method for deconstructing actual document content from the document structure"... doesn't that sound like CSS or a miriad of other "document-content" systems?

    Thirdly, it would seem that MS and i4i have had previous encounters regarding this years ago. But in reading a lot of the background it feels to me too much like i4i stretched the bounds of what should be patent-able purposefully because they had a feeling that MS would like to use similar techniques in their software. i4i saw a possible future opportunity perhaps?

    Lastly, to those who are saying "just use OO" -- OO is crap, get over it. Talk about the "way back machine" to software from decades past. It may be fine for home/SOHO, but OO seriously needs some major work before it can ever be a contender for business and corporate use. I would deploy WordPerfect Office long before OpenOffice. The biggest licensors of office suites are corporate/gov/etc., not your typical home Ubuntu/OO user.

  84. BossHog

    Software patents are rubbish

    Software patents are rubbish. Imagine if C. A. R. Hoare had been allowed to patent quicksort, and we were all stuck using bubble-sort, unless we paid him a licence fee. Even in a small program, the number of royalties and licence fees needed would soon get silly .. and if you used the Java lang libraries, good luck there. Oh my god, I used the "?:" operator... better send some cash to Dr Richards.

    A very good friend of mine, who is a patent attorney, tells me that you cannot patent laws of nature, or discoveries, only inventions. However, I get the impression that most people are dense enough about software and computing to not know the difference.

    For example, quicksort would probably have been given a patent, even though it is a really just one formalisation of the fastest way to sort a list, which is a natural limit - it is (debatably) a discovery from nature.

    Generally "patents" == "big money for the big guys", though, so unfortunately I expect to see software patents becoming more prevalent rather than less. Oh my god, I used the "==" operator..... cash to K&R.

  85. Thomas Kent 1

    "Works" for me.

    I have Microsoft Office on my computer, but I never use it. The few times I want to bang out a letter or two, I use Microsoft Works.

    Also, if I ever need to do some serious work, I have Open Office as well.

    BTW, I was in "WallyWorld" (WalMart) yesterday, and I saw an Acer netbook offered for sale WITHOUT Word installed!

  86. elderlybloke

    Wot about Amazon?

    They got a patent on something called "one click" to do a sale.

    I decided to have nothing to do with them.

    A lot of American businesses are greedy corrupt outfits.

  87. Dork Lard

    Oh no! Its "The End of The Wor(l)d"

    'Customers, meanwhile, could be "stranded without an alternative set of software" during the re-development work that Microsoft said would cause a "major public disruption".'

    So what will people do?

    1) OMG, the software I paid money for has a licensing issue! I must uninstall it immediately!


    2) Microsoft has a legal problem; so what?

    Ok, so Microsoft have some work to do or money to spend, but it's not the end of the Wor(l)d!

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