Live by the sword……. – or so Microsoft discover?

Microsoft has a patent portfolio and its not affraid to use it.  You know what they say though…those who live by the sword die by the sword….

Its a story which has been rumbling on now for a while, however its being reported today that a US court has upheld the verdict in a patent claim from i4i against Microsoft.

Microsoft had this to say on the matter:

We have been preparing for this possibility since the District Court issued its injunction in August 2009 and have put the wheels in motion to remove this little-used feature from these products…

and again, IMO we see the Microsoft PR “softening” machine going into action to try to convince you that this verdict doesn’t really matter.  So Microsoft think this a little used feature?  Well why on earth didn’t they just offer to remove it from day 1?

XML is used in Word 2003 and 2007 and its being reported that the injunction granted prohibiting the sale of these products will go into effect on 11th January 2010.  It is also alleged that Microsoft has been hit with a $290 million bill for court fee’s.  That will please the shareholders?!?! and maybe if it doesnt have any effect on Microsoft, the question should be asked, is Microsoft far too large?  My stance would be, if Microsoft can swallow a 290 million bill, then maybe its too powerful to truely act in the interests of consumers.

If Microsoft has this type of money in its war chest, then what other alleged actions can it do to harm competition and how on earth can it be punished or deterred from doing so?  Certainly not with fines/court cases if IMO it swallows these type of figures with ease.

The panel of judges in court allegedly said:

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……The district court found that Microsoft captured 80 percent of the custom XML market with its infringing Word products, forcing i4i to change its business strategy

So whats Microsoft to do?  Over the last few months we’ve seen GPL violations, Microsoft (or a 3rd party on its behalf) allegedly copying code from a small company.  Now we see an injunction banning the sale of Microsoft products (until it complies)  This doesn’t look good IMO.  As more news like this hits the press I always make the remark that Microsoft is not some 1bit software house comprised of teenagers coding in their basement.  Its Microsoft, the mighty guiding light of everything IT related thats good for you (or so its faithful would want you to believe)  For me it highlights everything that is wrong with Microsoft effectively having control of the PC software market (IMO).  Whilst Ballmer et al will allegedly make comments like FOSS being cancer, one has to question Microsoft’s true views on innovation (if its not coming from them)  I’ll let you answer that.

Microsoft are further reported to have said:

While we are moving quickly to address the injunction issue, we are also considering our legal options.

Legal options which I hope Plurk are considering (in respect of the code “stealing” issue)

A few months back when the story broke, it was reported on the BBC website, you can see that article here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8197990.stm

i4i made these comments on the verdict and for me Im pleased that i4i got the result they wanted:

i4i is especially pleased with the court’s decision to uphold the injunction, an important step in protecting the property rights of small inventors.

Shame on you Microsoft, shame.

Goblin – bytes4free@googlemail.com


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