U.S. Court Bars Microsoft Word Sales (pdf)
A Texas district court on Tuesday ruled in favor of Canadian software firm i4i Ltd and filed an injunction preventing Microsoft from selling the 2003 and 2007 versions of Word.
The patent relates to XML, or extensible markup language, which is used to manipulate a documents content and architecture separately.
See extensive posting here: Patent Injunction: Microsoft Ordered to Stop Selling Word
The patent in question is #5,787,449: “Method and system for manipulating the architecture and the content of a document separately from each other” awarded July 28, 1998.
A system and method for the separate manipulation of the architecture and content of a document, particularly for data representation and transformations. The system, for use by computer software developers, removes dependency on document encoding technology. A map of metacodes found in the document is produced and provided and stored separately from the document. The map indicates the location and addresses of metacodes in the document. The system allows of multiple views of the same content, the ability to work solely on structure and solely on content, storage efficiency of multiple versions and efficiency of operation.
With luck, this case will become the basis for arguing that software patents are fundamentally inconsistent with the constitutional goal “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.” More likely, though, will be the demonstration that this patent fails on novelty, but it’s going to take some digging, it appears. After all, Microsoft wasn’t able to convince the court of the existence of prior art, although the opinion does seem to argue that part of its rejection of those claims are based on procedural grounds rather than on consideration of the evidence. The opinion *does* note that the Patent Office was (and is still?) reviewing the patent in light of claims of obviousness, but that apparently was not enough to grant the motion for a new trial.