Microsoft Word injunction: court grants motion to stay

As reported on The Microsoft Blog, the court has granted Microsoft’s motion to stay the injunction in the i4i patent case until the appeal process is complete. Also, Microsoft’s request for an expedited appeal process has been granted already on August 21, so this will continue to be very interesting to watch.

See also my previous coverage on the i4i vs. Microsoft patent case on the XML Aficionado blog:

More on the Microsoft and i4i XML patent issues

Rick Jelliffe published two great posts on the O’Reilly Blogs yesterday and today that deal with an in-depth technical reading of both the patent that Microsoft received recently and also the i4i patent that it was sued over. Rick’s analysis contradicts some of the perfunctory statements in various news media and other blogs:

I highly recommend reading both…

Injunction to prevent Microsoft from selling Word due to XML

It appears that there are just a handful of truly ubiquitous PC applications out there that exist on almost every single computer on the planet and Microsoft Word is certainly among that bunch. So it is an interesting twist that a Texas judge ruled yesterday in an injunction that Microsoft can no longer sell Word (version 2003 and 2007) starting in 60 days because they can handle XML data.

In a lawsuit filed in 2007 i4i (based out of Canada) said that Word violated its 1998 patent No. 5,787,449 on a method for reading XML.

If you are like me and prefer to read all the legal details yourself, here are the relevant links (thanks to The Microsoft Blog for the PDFs):

Needless to say, Microsoft will either appeal the injunction, try to invalidate the patent, or – most likely – settle and write a big check to i4i, but this just shows yet another aspect of the broken patent system when it comes to software patents especially in relations to standards such as XML.

It is interesting to note that the patent appears to deal primarily with representing any document in XML, which appears to be slightly ludicrous given the long history of SGML prior to 1998. Also interesting is that the injunction doesn't just talk about XML, but rather specifically mentions .DOCX (i.e. Open Office XML), which is used by Word 2007 as its default storage format.

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