Judge Bars Sale Of Microsoft Word For Patent Infringement (Though It Won't Stick)

from the nice-work dept

Just last week, plenty of tech publications were up in arms over the news that Microsoft had apparently secured a patent on XML word processing documents (patent 7,571,169). Of course, when you live by software patents, expect to die by software patents... as a judge (in East Texas of course) has now issued an injunction against Microsoft, barring the sale of Microsoft Word because it infringes on a patent that involves (you guessed it) XML word processing documents.

The judgment against Microsoft in this case actually isn't new. We wrote about it and the $200 million judgment back in May, noting how insane it was that the company holding the patent, i4i, felt that it deserved $98 for every copy of Microsoft Word ever sold. For what? Its patent, 5,787,449, is about XML editing of a word processed document. How that could be worth $98 per copy of Word is beyond me. Actually, how it's patentable at all is beyond me... but that's another story.

Of course, there's about 0% probability that this will actually stop the sales of Word, but it's ridiculous for Judge Leonard Davis to issue this injunction in the first place. As he well knows, the Supreme Court ruled in the MercExchange case that injunctions often don't make sense in patent infringement cases. In that case, the Supreme Court says that a judge should weigh a variety of factors in determining if an injunction is reasonable. From the actual injunction, there's no evidence at all that the judge weighed anything at all. However, he gave Microsoft 60 days to comply, which is ample time for Microsoft to appeal the injunction, and in such cases it's quite common for the appeals court to stay the injunction.

But, honestly, the whole thing shows (yet again) how screwed up the patent system has become. The fact that a judge would ban all sales of Microsoft Word because it can edit an XML document? And that's on top of a $200 million award for infringing on this patent? How can anyone think that's a sane outcome?
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Filed Under: east texas, injunction, patents, xml
Companies: i4i, microsoft


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  1. icon
    slacker525600 (profile), 12 Aug 2009 @ 4:50am

    None of this makes sense

    But that is what happens when you have people reviewing patents with no insight into the technology behind them. And when you have courts ruling on systems that they do not understand.

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