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i4i Rebuts Microsoft's Appeal in Patent Case

Toronto-based i4i LP filed legal papers on Tuesday rebutting Microsoft's appeal in a patent infringement case involving Microsoft Word.

Microsoft lost the case, which involves so-called "custom XML" technology used in Word and Microsoft Office. However, Redmond appealed the final judgment issued by a U.S. district court and was granted a stay, with a hearing scheduled to take place on Sept. 23.

"i4i's brief refutes each and every one of the same weak defences Microsoft repackaged from the trial and raised on appeal," said Loudon Owen, chairman of i4i, in a prepared statement.

Based on i4i's appeal, the two companies still appear to be contesting how the patent applies. For instance, a bone of contention is whether the patent specifies that the metacode mapping system is stored as a separate file from the document file it describes. i4i claims that the patent doesn't make such specification.

Microsoft has also contested the judge's conduct during the trial and has questioned a survey used by the plaintiffs used to calculate damages. Microsoft has been ordered by the U.S. District Court for East Texas to pay i4i more than $240 million in damages and penalties. Microsoft was also enjoined from selling Word in the future using i4i's technology.

i4i's Tuesday filing before the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. suggests that Microsoft reviewed i4i's patented technology and then later decided to squeeze the company out by building similar technology into Word.

"When it suited its purposes, Microsoft touted i4i as a 'Microsoft Partner' able to provide software that Microsoft could not," states i4i's Sept. 8 appeals court filing. "But behind i4i's back, Microsoft usurped i4i's invention, destroying i4i's ability to compete in the market that it had created. [p. 4]"

Once Microsoft had built the custom XML capability into Word, i4i was deprived of that market, the i4i appeals court filing claims.

"As the district court found, once customers have Microsoft's XML features in Word, they are reluctant to purchase i4i's products. [p. 80]"

i4i's 84-page appeals court finding can be accessed here.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Sep 17, 2009 Dave Earth

Microsoft secures web Office XML patent

By Gavin Clarke in San Francisco 7th August 2009 20:13 GMT

Microsoft might be offering up its XML-based Office specs and formats with a promise not to prosecute, but that hasn't stopped it from locking down another patent on the suite.

The company has been awarded a US patent apparently intended to protect the formatting and editing of Word documents that use XML.

Microsoft's patent appears designed not just to cover documents on the desktop but also those being stored and edited online in its Office Web apps - due later this year.

Significantly, the patent award covers "the manipulation of word-processing documents [that] may be done on computing devices that do not include the word-processor itself."

On protection of formatting, the patent said: "There are no feature losses when saving the word-processor documents as XML."

Presumably, this patent is part of Microsoft's Office Open XML file format, which was accepted as an ISO standard after much international politicking last year and is also an ECMA standard.

Tue, Sep 15, 2009

I agree, i4i really should not have even been able to patent their XML solution in the first place. I think they should be able to use it and sell it, but the patent itself is faulty. XML is a free Standardized developement solution that was not developed by i4i nor standardized by i4i, but somehow they took and were allowed to patent their solution using XML, it does not belong to them, but to the entire Worldwide Developement Community. If anything, they should have thier patent revoked and the case thrown out.

Fri, Sep 11, 2009

i4i didn't invent anything. They simply ripped off the real inventors of SGML and prevent true innovation.

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