CAFC Won't Rehear Patent Case Of Editing XML

from the too-bad dept

One of the more troubling patent rulings in the past year involved a Canadian company, i4i, that held a patent (5,787,449) that appears to broadly (very broadly) cover editing a custom XML document, separate from the presentation layer of a document. Microsoft included such functionality in Word, and i4i sued. Amazingly, the court not only found the patent to be valid and that Microsoft infringed, but somehow decided that the functionality was worth $98 in each copy of Word where this product was used (estimated to be 1.8 million users). Of course, Word itself doesn’t cost much more than that (in reality), and this is a tiny feature of Word that was very unlikely to be a key buying point for most users of the program. But the courts were having none of it, and even issued an injunction against selling Word, along with a huge fine. At the end of the last year, the appeals court (CAFC) upheld the ruling and the potential injunction.

Microsoft appealed to have the case reheard by the full panel of judges at CAFC, but that’s now been rejected as well. Microsoft can (and may) still appeal to the Supreme Court, but I doubt there’s enough of a core issue at play in this lawsuit to have the Supreme Court bother with it.

Of course, this is just one more reminder why Microsoft might want to reconsider its strongly pro-patent position. It seems like it can come back to bite you.

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Companies: i4i, microsoft

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Comments on “CAFC Won't Rehear Patent Case Of Editing XML”

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34 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: troubling NOT

Did i4i invent the XML format? No.

Did every slackjawed schmoe who ever worked with the format ever think that having proper IDE support for it might be useful? Yes.

Can any bored programmer whose ever dealt with any kind of parsing and document editing software implement XML editing? Yes again.

Should i4i have ever been granted this patent in the first place? Hell no.

The patent is one of the broadest pieces of crap I’ve ever seen. I’ve implemented the exact same methods in PHP, Javascript, Java and C++ in less than an hour each with basic parsing and file reading functions. Hell, what they’re describing is basically a two or three function calls in XSL.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: troubling NOT

A: It’s not stealing, it’s infringing. To claim otherwise is a lie and puts your whole moral judgment into question.

B: It is likely that Microsoft independently came up with the idea. In other words, the patent probably did nothing to promote the progress. But you ignore the part where patents are supposed to promote the progress.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: Re: troubling NOT

“It’s not stealing, it’s infringing”

Really? How much were the damages which were awarded. It sure looks like theft to me.

Ronald J. Riley,

I am speaking only on my own behalf.
Affiliations:
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

Vic Kley says:

Re: troubling NOT

This case brings up the need for an even playing field for the small and independent inventors. No one seems to understand the incredible achievement of sustaining and triumphing over an opponent who uses their monopoly monies to fund their litigation department.

MS is a serial infringer (3 or more convictions in different base cases) and as such should be required to fund their opponent (when the opponent is small [USPTO definition] and/or an independent inventor) and be presumed guilty until they prove their innocence.

i4i must be relatively large, for this same MS destroyed my company on just this kind of behavior, we could not fund a suit against them.

Don’t forget Gates is still not prosecuted on his perjury, and MS still abuses its competitors. MS has bought most of D.C. politicians and bureaucrats to avoid the reckoning which must surely come.

Anonymous Coward says:

This gets even better...

Just visited i4i’s website. The problem isn’t that Microsoft implemented XML editing functionality. It’s that i4i’s product is a MICROSOFT WORD EXTENSION.

That’s right. They’re selling a product that adds XML editing into Microsoft Word. This isn’t about patents. It’s about abusing the law when your own crappy software becomes useless.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: This gets even better...

“It’s about abusing the law when your own crappy software becomes useless.”

So why does Microsoft keep losing?

Ronald J. Riley,

I am speaking only on my own behalf.
Affiliations:
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

How Can Mike Masnick Defend Microsoft?

Mike, how can you continue to defend a company like Microsoft when they have been repeatedly caught with their sticky fingers in others patent cookie jar. Have you ever bothered to to actually review any of these cases and seen how atrocious Microsoft’s and other members of the Coalition for Patent Piracy & Fairness has been?

Do you know that the threshold to make holding patent thieves accountable is in the ten to one-hundred million range and that below that amount Coalition for Patent Piracy & Fairness members get a free pass to steal. Are you aware that for every high profile case where a member of the Coalition for Patent Piracy & Fairness is held accountable that there are scores of cases where the damages are too low to make enforcement economically viable?

Big companies continue to steal independent and small company patent rights because doing so is profitable.

Microsoft and other large companies have considered Patent Deform legislation. That legislation is designed so that small entities will be able to get patents but will not be able to hold on to them. It is designed to turn the patent system into a kings sport by raising the costs of defending a patent and it is designed to greatly limit the ability of small entities to get contingency representation by lowering the amount of damages when the big entities are caught stealing. While the threshold to economically sue is currently in the ten to one-hundred dollar range Patent Deform would increase the by one to two orders of magnitude.

Ronald J. Riley,

I am speaking only on my own behalf.
Affiliations:
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: How Can Mike Masnick Defend Microsoft?

A: It’s not stealing, it’s infringement, but keep telling lies and expecting us to take your moral judgment seriously.

B: Infringement is not an atrocity, our current IP laws are, and as such IP should be either done away with or at least substantially alleviated.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: How Can Mike Masnick Defend Microsoft?

Ah, yes, since MS may have violated other patents in the past, that must mean every patent holder that sues them in the future is completely correct and their patent is completely perfect.

I think your signature must be clogging up your brain.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: Re: How Can Mike Masnick Defend Microsoft?

“Ah, yes, since MS may have violated other patents in the past, that must mean every patent holder that sues them in the future is completely correct and their patent is completely perfect.”

1) Since Microsoft is losing so many cases it means that new claims against them are likely to have merit.

2) In this case the court has determined that Microsoft is wrong once again.

Ronald J. Riley,

I am speaking only on my own behalf.
Affiliations:
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

Josef says:

Is it just me???

Ok I really don’t care that MS lost this suit. They are a huge corporation and have done more than enough to hurt the little guy.

Is it just me? This case looks like blatant patent abuse with a certain sense of sarcastic humor. I mean, c’mon. The company suing MS is named Eye for an Eye. Any judge and jury that missed that has got to be blind.

Seems to me the Canadian judicial system just decided to back a small company that wanted to stick it to MS. It’s got very little to do with patents and more to do with a message being sent.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: Is it just me???

How do you explain how so many little companies are winning battles against Microsoft? After all, Microsoft has all the resources they need to have their day in court and they are still losing case after case.

Law is not perfect, especially when it is David versus Goliath. When the Davids keep winning in spite of their financial disadvantage that should tell you something.

Ronald J. Riley,

I am speaking only on my own behalf.
Affiliations:
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re: Is it just me???

The problem is with the laws. As a developer, I would have to say that this is clearly a patent that should not have been issued. It is obvious. The award they have won is also out of touch with reality.

This is a small company that may have had a good product a decade ago. They have been out-done by a larger company. That’s the software business. They need to be innovative and come up with something new – not augmenting their business with lawsuits.

These patent battles are becoming money grabs and the system needs to be fixed to really promote innovation.

Richard Corsale (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Is it just me???

power is easy to grant, nearly impossible to take back. The entire country could be on the verge of innovation meltdown and these companies would vow on their respective gods that its only because they don’t have MORE patents… in the end, this is only going to have MS step up its enforcement to recover this loss.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Is it just me???

“The problem is with the laws. As a developer,”

In other words you do no develop inventions and feel entitled to make money on those who do.

Ronald J. Riley,

I am speaking only on my own behalf.
Affiliations:
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

Richard says:

MS

@Ronald J Riley

Lets not mince words here. Mike is what we like to call “consistent” in principle. Tomorrow you will be defending MS when they sue someone for infringing on one of their “displaying a digital document in a window that cannot be closed until the document has been scrolled to the bottom” patents… You don’t have an honest opinion on anything, you’re just a lobbyist. you say the same things over and over, looking for places to drop silly catch phrases like “patent property” in hopes that some neutral party viewing the post will want to see the other side of the story and goto your stone age website. The same website that you blamed on Open Source Software then said that you learned your lesson (Open Source = bad) and so now your moving it to Drupal! which is … FOSS.

Ronald J Riley (profile) says:

Re: MS

“you’re just a lobbyist”

No, I am an inventor who lobbies based on personal experience.

A lobbyist is usually a whore who will promote any issue of money.

Ronald J. Riley,

I am speaking only on my own behalf.
Affiliations:
President – http://www.PIAUSA.org – RJR at PIAUSA.org
Executive Director – http://www.InventorEd.org – RJR at InvEd.org
Senior Fellow – http://www.PatentPolicy.org
President – Alliance for American Innovation
Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
Washington, DC
Direct (810) 597-0194 / (202) 318-1595 – 9 am to 8 pm EST.

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