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Dell, HP join Microsoft in fighting Word injunction

updated 05:10 pm EDT, Thu August 27, 2009

Dell, HP join Word fight

PC makers Dell and HP have joined Microsoft in its fight against i4i, a Canadian software developer that was responsible for an injunction of sales of the Microsoft Word. Dell and HP are among Microsoft's biggest customers, and are helping Microsoft to overturn the injunction in front of an Eastern District Court of Texas judge. In a brief that was joined by HP, Dell asked the judge to reconsider its order or at least delay the injunction by 120 days. The injunction is scheduled to take place in mid-October.

"The District Court's injunction of Microsoft Word will have an impact far beyond Microsoft," Dell and HP wrote in their brief, which had some information redacted from its public version. "Microsoft Word is ubiquitous among word processing software and is included on [redacted] computers sold by Dell."

This missing information apparently includes how the injunction affects Dell monetarily, how it would need to restructure its products if the block is maintained and how quickly it can respond to comply with the injunction.

The judge ruled that Microsoft must pay a $290 million fine and blocked it from selling Word on August 12th, as a result of infringing on some i4i patents. Microsoft promptly filed a motion indicating it would appeal the verdict. An appeal hearing is scheduled for September 23rd.

The patent dispute involves technology relating to custom XML files. The block order relates to Word 2003 and Word 2007 in their current forms, though if Microsoft patches the software to disable functions that contain the i4i patents, it can continue to sell the software. [via PCMag]

By Electronista Staff
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  1. dscottbuch

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2000


    Not XML

    As has been pointed out elsewhere the infringement is NOT about XML but about the structuring of the document into two pieces. Simplistically, one with formating information and one with the content, or text. The patent actually pre-dates XML's release and while SGML was a preferred embodiment in the patent the claims are not tied to SGML (or XML since it wasn't finished at that time). MS just happens (as does ODF) to use XML for this purpose at this time.

    For people you think this patent is just 'trolling' keep in mind that the date of the patent is early 1990's (1994 I think) and was actually a very nice, and original idea at that time. I'm not aware of MS finding any prior art to this (predating 1994 or so).

    These arguments by Dell and HP are specious and amount to 'we're too big to fail' The solution is simple - MS has to pony up to the bar and negotiate a license agreement with i4i. If they had done this sooner, in a legitimate fashion, there would be none of these issues and it would have been cheaper for all. Procrastination is NOT a defense.

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