AfterDawn: Tech news

Microsoft updates Word to comply with court order

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 23 Dec 2009 20:15 User comments (23)

Microsoft updates Word to comply with court order In August, software giant Microsoft lost in court to tiny Canadian company i4i over patent violations relating to customized Extensible Markup Language (XML) and was told to either update Word or stop selling it entirely. The company was also fined $290 million USD
As part of the broader Office pack, the full suite accounts for over $3 billion USD in sales per year for Microsoft.

Today, Microsoft has released a mandatory patch for Office 2007 that will bring Word in compliance with the court's decision. The patch, dubbed the 2007 Microsoft Office OPK Master Kit Download, will cut some custom XML editing capabilities from Word and other Office suite products. The patch is mandatory for legal US users of Office 2007.

Microsoft lost their final appeal yesterday.

"In this case, a small company was practicing its patent, only to suffer a loss of market share, brand recognition, and customer goodwill as the result of the defendant's infringing acts," said the judge in the ruling.

IW says "the ruling means Microsoft can't sell versions of Word that can open documents saved in the .XML, .DOCX, or .DOCM formats that contain custom XML. Those formats were at the heart of the patent dispute. DOCX is the default format for the most current version of Word, which is included in Microsoft Office 2007. Custom XML is used by businesses to link their corporate data to Word documents."

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23 user comments

123.12.2009 22:42

A mandatory update that removes features? Now the users need to sue microsoft for removing the features that they paid for...and for the loss of their documents that use custom XML.

Maybe now the government will finaly dump this crap and use OpenOffice...but I should not expect them to do anything that obvious.

224.12.2009 0:55

Sue for removing features "paid for"? So, is there like a Office features list and a dollar amount for each one? Sorry, but that argument is one of the most idiotic ones I've seen.

324.12.2009 1:48

it mit be stupid but its stil the right thing to do. i know im going to lose a couple files imagine people who heavily depend on it?
its to bad we dont live in a country that does things because its fair and right

424.12.2009 2:28
thunderwa
Inactive

I'm just happy to see that unlimited money didn't win in court this time. Microsoft has built their business on the carcasses of companies they have destroyed or cheated, starting with MSDOS. They are good at it, I'll give them that. But the difference between Gates and Jobs is why Jobs was the CEO of the decade, and why Gates, and Balmer especially, are so insane with Apple envy. I'm really ready to dance on their grave, though I doubt I'll get the chance in my lifetime.

524.12.2009 3:07

Originally posted by thunderwa:
I'm just happy to see that unlimited money didn't win in court this time. Microsoft has built their business on the carcasses of companies they have destroyed or cheated, starting with MSDOS. They are good at it, I'll give them that. But the difference between Gates and Jobs is why Jobs was the CEO of the decade, and why Gates, and Balmer especially, are so insane with Apple envy. I'm really ready to dance on their grave, though I doubt I'll get the chance in my lifetime.
you don't get to be a billion dollar company without destroying a few company in the process, Apple has also built a monopoly on top of carcasses.

624.12.2009 7:08

Originally posted by thunderwa:
I'm just happy to see that unlimited money didn't win in court this time. Microsoft has built their business on the carcasses of companies they have destroyed or cheated, starting with MSDOS. They are good at it, I'll give them that. But the difference between Gates and Jobs is why Jobs was the CEO of the decade, and why Gates, and Balmer especially, are so insane with Apple envy. I'm really ready to dance on their grave, though I doubt I'll get the chance in my lifetime.

Pst... Apple fanboy... if M$ didn't help Apple, they wouldn't be around because Jobs can't manage a company worth a damn.

724.12.2009 8:24

Originally posted by thunderwa:
I'm just happy to see that unlimited money didn't win in court this time. Microsoft has built their business on the carcasses of companies they have destroyed or cheated, starting with MSDOS. They are good at it, I'll give them that. But the difference between Gates and Jobs is why Jobs was the CEO of the decade, and why Gates, and Balmer especially, are so insane with Apple envy. I'm really ready to dance on their grave, though I doubt I'll get the chance in my lifetime.
I can't say I back Apples insane pricing schemes on their products. I would rather pay half and get more with a Microsoft product.

824.12.2009 8:51
thunderwa
Inactive

I should read the comments more on this site. Didn't realize there were so many M$ stockholders (sorry about that last few years). In any case, I won't argue with you. I read one of the contracts at the time that eventually became the foundation of the Netscape case. It was pretty disgusting to a businessperson in a free enterprise system. Had they changed their behavior, it would have been fine. They did not, and have not. Every chance they've had to do something shady, they've taken it. That's what this article is about--that behavior. If you can't see the difference between Apple and Microsoft in their approach to competition and the market, then there's really nothing to discuss.

924.12.2009 12:30

Stop your bickering...Apple and Microsoft are both evil corporations. They both have drawbacks and problems, they are both owned by and run by thieves, and they both have terribly high prices.

I am also happy to see microsoft loose the case...but rather than doing the right thing and paying for what they stole, they decide to remove the features that their users were already using. Just think...there are a lot of companies that use custom XML in office for almost everything. Removing these features from the software effectivly destroys their means of making money, tracking orders, etc...

And yes, Microsoft was bragging about the custom XML capabilities of their product. This is one of the things they used to sell the product, and they even had training programs that focused heavily on custom XML. This means that there are people who have spent the last year building custom XML pages for their company, only to have all their work destroyed, their job made obsolite, and their training made void. This is malicious...they might as well start releasing viruses that are designed to destroy documents.

1024.12.2009 12:35

They are both evil, but MS is better on my bottom line, so I go with the lesser of the two evils. :D

1124.12.2009 14:04

I don't know the particulars of this case... Is the issue some proprietary XML tags? If so then this company would have done much better to reach some kind of compromise with MS. It would be much better to have your companies stuff on as many computers as possible.
Companies create proprietary XML markup every day and most would KILL to get their stuff widely distributed.

1224.12.2009 15:08

doesn't exactly mean the features cant be reimplemented by us the user.

i will treat this as i do any other Mandatory update i will simply avoid it.

1324.12.2009 19:12

Originally posted by DXR88:
doesn't exactly mean the features cant be reimplemented by us the user.

i will treat this as i do any other Mandatory update i will simply avoid it.
Exactly! If you can choose not to download or install it. It's not exactly mandatory.

1425.12.2009 1:30

Yes, but those who have automatic updates turned off are the same people who were smart enough to not use Custom XML in the first place.

It is easy enough to say, "It won't hurt me"...but this is a very short-sighted view, as when something comes along to hurt you, everyone else will be saying, "No one cares when it happens to me".

Personaly, it will not hurt me; I use openoffice, and have used it for years. Every time there is a new Office, I have to learn it...but I don't use it for anything I do myself.



1525.12.2009 15:39

Every time some patent infringement case pops up all I can think of is some lucky SOB who thought of a general idea decades ago and is now rich because of it. Unfortunately the company he worked for probably owns the rights to that idea and they make a marginal gain by gouging into a competitors profit, technicality’s that add up to millions, even billions.

1625.12.2009 16:20
scum101
Inactive

Patents last 15 years .. but some people want to see them extended like copyright.. taking everything out of the possibility of the public domain.

What annoys me is the buying and selling of something which was supposed to preserve the inventor rights to make money from their invention.

The yankee patent office needs looking at.. it is allowing patents to be registered on already existing technology and on general ideas not specifics.. that is totally wrong. What would happen if some bright spark patents the idea of using an optical device to look at something (a similarly wide patent to some of the junk being patented today) then sues everybody who uses their eyes to look at something... or everybody who makes something which can be seen.. for patent infringement.


1725.12.2009 18:32

Originally posted by KillerBug:
...but rather than doing the right thing and paying for what they stole, they decide to remove the features that their users were already using...
They were not given the option to pay for what they stole, as you call it. They had to either remove the custom XML integration or stop selling Word. Would you rather they stopped selling Word? Imagine how many more people would be screwed over because of that compared to those that just can't use custom XML now...

1825.12.2009 22:15

Couldn't this be another example of your classic patent troll? I mean seriously...some random no-name company nobody has ever heard of before just happens to hold the patent of one of MS's largest grossing products?

And before anybody cries fanboy, I am by no means a fan of the balmer/gates conglomerate. I'm just sick of seeing these patent issues.

If i4i really cared about the IP, they would have done everything possible to strike a deal with MS to continue distribution of the xml and not just settle for such a relatively small amount of money. And yes, in the bigger picture, $290M is a relatively small amount.

1926.12.2009 3:44

i don't believe Something as standard and widely used should be patented. it leads to stagnation of a company as does no real competition(Microsoft) im Glade MS got hammered this means they actually have to sit down and design something original Something im not even sure they know how to do anymore.

2026.12.2009 11:42

Originally posted by DXR88:
i don't believe Something as standard and widely used should be patented. it leads to stagnation of a company as does no real competition(Microsoft) im Glade MS got hammered this means they actually have to sit down and design something original Something im not even sure they know how to do anymore.
That's the dumbest thing I've heard in weeks. That's like saying there should be no patent on products like spark plugs or computer chips.

2126.12.2009 15:41

Spark Plugs hell there hasn't been a new patent for spark plugs for years, there have been appendage made to certain spark plug manufactures such as those with special techniques for longer life or performance

and computer chip manufactures all have different ways of accomplishing the same end so of-coarse Intel would patent MMX and AMD would 3DNOW!.

but my mind still stands that the US patent office provides Stagnation,to all up start company's. you can patent ideas and if some upstart company makes a product with your idea you can sue them. that is stupid you should only be allowed to patient physical objects or implemented ideas.

2227.12.2009 8:51
electriac
Inactive

I have just finished reading copious materials relating to the recent court case between MS and I4I. It seems to me that claiming rights to something as generic as an ASCII file is a stretch but I am not an authority on computer software patents. I am familiar with patents of another type though and I can assure you the courts, in their ignorance of the subject matter they were dealing with, made decisions that made no sense what so ever. I speak of plant patents of which I have some intimate knowledge.

In the 1980's the plant Penstemen digitalis was introduced in the US and was patented under the name Penstemen “Huskers Red”. This plant is a species plant from SE Asia and there is no difference between the patented plant and the species variety. If you bought one of these plants it was accompanied with warnings that propagation of the plant was in violation of the patent and you would be liable for prosecution and fines. In the 1990's sometime the plant became the perennial of the year and this patent on something that actually belonged to no one, other than mother nature, garnered thousands in royalties. I do not see how something as generic as a species plant should be allowed a patent. I have often thought as a test case I should patent Acer sacrum (Sugar Maple) and see if the government is naive enough to allow this.

So what does this have to do with MS, I4I, and XML. XML is after all nothing but data delimited in an ASCII file. There are many other types of delimited data files like CSV comma delimited data files. Should the author of comma delimiting be granted a patent. In fact I myself have created several types of delimited data ASCII files and many of these have been reused by many people. Does that mean that I can sue them for using something as generic as an ASCII file.

I am no friend of Microsoft but the courts have become a loose cannon making ridiculous judgments based upon insufficient knowledge of the subject matter they are adjudicating and the lawyers are laughing all the way to the bank. Maybe I should patent the Maple Tree.

2327.12.2009 21:46

Originally posted by electriac:
I have just finished reading copious materials relating to the recent court case between MS and I4I. It seems to me that claiming rights to something as generic as an ASCII file is a stretch but I am not an authority on computer software patents. I am familiar with patents of another type though and I can assure you the courts, in their ignorance of the subject matter they were dealing with, made decisions that made no sense what so ever. I speak of plant patents of which I have some intimate knowledge.

In the 1980's the plant Penstemen digitalis was introduced in the US and was patented under the name Penstemen “Huskers Red”. This plant is a species plant from SE Asia and there is no difference between the patented plant and the species variety. If you bought one of these plants it was accompanied with warnings that propagation of the plant was in violation of the patent and you would be liable for prosecution and fines. In the 1990's sometime the plant became the perennial of the year and this patent on something that actually belonged to no one, other than mother nature, garnered thousands in royalties. I do not see how something as generic as a species plant should be allowed a patent. I have often thought as a test case I should patent Acer sacrum (Sugar Maple) and see if the government is naive enough to allow this.

So what does this have to do with MS, I4I, and XML. XML is after all nothing but data delimited in an ASCII file. There are many other types of delimited data files like CSV comma delimited data files. Should the author of comma delimiting be granted a patent. In fact I myself have created several types of delimited data ASCII files and many of these have been reused by many people. Does that mean that I can sue them for using something as generic as an ASCII file.

I am no friend of Microsoft but the courts have become a loose cannon making ridiculous judgments based upon insufficient knowledge of the subject matter they are adjudicating and the lawyers are laughing all the way to the bank. Maybe I should patent the Maple Tree.
Your argument is valid as I have seen US patents office grant patents dealing with medicinal value of turmeric, something which has been quoted in the Ayurveda and used by Indians for thousands of years.

What I wonder about is M$ own stand on what they have supposedly patented, some form of xml and forced down the throats of standards committee and earning them royalties!!!

Will the older version - including the i4i patent infringing feature - install and be accepted as an official copy with serial number from the new version lacking the feature? If answer is yes then one might conclude that M$ is promoting piracy !!!

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