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Microsoft

"Easy Work-Around" For Microsoft Word's Legal Woes 172

Posted by timothy
from the legal-hokey-pokey-is-what-it's-all-about dept.
CWmike writes "Microsoft can likely use an 'easy technical work-around' to sidestep a recent injunction by a Texas federal judge that bars the company from selling Word, a patent attorney said today. 'The injunction doesn't apply to existing product that has already been sold,' said Barry Negrin, a partner with the New York firm Pryor Cashman LLP who has practiced patent and trademark law for 17 years. 'Headlines that say Microsoft can't sell Word are not really true,' said Negrin, pointing out that the injunction granted by US District Court Judge Leonard Davis on Tuesday only prohibits Microsoft from selling Word as it exists now after Oct. 10. 'All Microsoft has to do is disable the custom XML feature, which should be pretty easy to do, then give that a different SKU number from what's been sold so it's easy to distinguish the two versions.'"
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"Easy Work-Around" For Microsoft Word's Legal Woes

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  • Really... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:44PM (#29079147)
    Really if MS decided to lobby against patent trolls they could have saved themselves the trouble in the first place.
    • Re:Really... (Score:4, Informative)

      by KraftDinner (1273626) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @07:15PM (#29079703)
      Except the company suing them aren't patent trolls. If you took a minute to check out their site, they legitimately offer services that directly relate to what they're suing about.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Deanalator (806515)

        A patent troll with a PoC is still a patent troll. Looks to me like they sold a pretty simple plugin, and even made some money while doing it. Now that feature has been moved into the mainline version of word, and they worry about unfair competition.

        If i4i has a better product, they have nothing to worry about. If Microsoft is interested in adding that functionality to word, then they can acquire i4i for a fair price. If neither side can agree on a fair price, then we have what is called innovation. Bo

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Tubal-Cain (1289912)

          If i4i has a better product, they have nothing to worry about. If Microsoft is interested in adding that functionality to word, then they can acquire i4i for a fair price.

          It doesn't matter whether or not i4i has a better product. They own the patent on the method their product uses. Microsoft is using that same method in Office without having licensed it from i4i. If they can't reach an agreement on a license fee or buy the patent outright, MS must wait about twenty years for the patent to expire if they want to use this method again.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Deanalator (806515)

            Ya, sorry, I was sort of giving my view on how things should happen rather than the current legal status quo on the issue.

            20 years is insane.

            I sort of like the idea of property taxes on intellectual property. If microsoft offers to buy the idea for 8 million, and i4i claims the software is worth 10 million, then the value of the patent is set to 10 million, and i4i would need to pay something like 10% of that per year to keep the patent, or it goes into public domain.

            When patent reform actually does happen

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by foniksonik (573572)

              I second the idea of a property tax. If the intellectual property is worth a significant amount of money then there should be no shortage of investors willing to pay a tax for the exclusive right to benefit from that IP. Filing fees are not the right way to do it at all, though they do of course have their place as the USPTO should cover their costs to assess the patent application.

              If the property tax were to go directly to the USPTO for other operational expenses they would be flush with cash and able to h

            • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

              God, do any of you own a house? I'm worried if you do, because you obviously have no idea how property tax works, or how the value is assessed.

              Property value is based on market value, and it is assessed not determined with any arbitrarily set at whatever the owner says it is worth. If THAT were the case, everyone would claim their house is worth ~$1, and nobody would pay property tax. The individual sale price for the property is only one factor in the equation, and just because you offer something for $

        • Re:Really... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Zordak (123132) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @10:48PM (#29080673) Homepage Journal

          Using patents to prevent Microsoft from competing is anti-competitive.

          That's because patents are inherently anti-competitive. A patent is a limited-term monopoly expressly granted by the government. That's the whole idea.

          And your naive and simplified free market solution is unrealistic. Don't get me wrong. I'm a fan of free markets too. But they're not flawless and universally efficient. If i4i were to compete head-to-head against Microsoft, they would get crushed regardless of the quality of their product.

          Fortunately for them, the USPTO has, pursuant to its statutory authority (which is well-grounded in the constitution, unlike about 90% of what the federal government does), granted them a limited monopoly. They now have the right to enforce that monopoly in the courts, which means they get a chance to compete.

          The alternative is that MegaCorps get to decide every single product and service that is available to you. There would be no way for disruptive technologies to get a footing. All startups could be crushed at inception, because their ideas (the only asset where they may possibly have an edge on the MegaCorp) would be free for the taking. MegaCorp gets to decide what you can buy and what you can't (and in what form). Sounds like Utopia, huh?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by hedwards (940851)
            Technically speaking, patents can be unfairly anti-competitive or part of a healthy market. It all depends upon how they're used, how long they're in place and what they're allowed to cover.

            There's a difference between blocking patents which exist primarily to make it impossible for other companies to work in an area, and patents on important processes that are genuinely being used an exploited as an end.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by digitalunity (19107)

              My biggest gripe with software patents is the asinine frequency with which they are granted, despite the abundance of significant prior art and the lack of desire for patent examiners to reject applications based on said prior art.

              I hate to break it to all the budding young developers-but their projects, however ingenious, are typically based upon tried and true computer science fundamentals and hard work, nothing else. There seem to be relatively few fundamental advances in computer science. Good examples

              • by Rob Y. (110975)

                Good examples of what I would consider patent-worthy inventions: Java virtual machine, .NET(yep, I said it), MS Office "ribbon" UI(even though I fucking hate it).

                I'd be willing to be there's prior art on all of these. Hell, the Java virtual machine is probably prior art to 90% of .NET. If that were patented, the 'innovative' parts of .NET wouldn't have a platform to have been innovated onto.

            • That's because patents are inherently anti-competitive.

              Technically speaking, patents can be unfairly anti-competitive or part of a healthy market.

              That's a matter of opinion, but patents certainly are anti-competitive. The important thing to realize is that "anti-competitive" is not always a bad thing depending on the market. It isn't a synonym for "bad" it just means there isn't competition. Lack of competition can be a very bad thing in many economic situations, but it is not necessarily a bad thing in all cases. People with the opinion that it is tend to be those with oversimplified understandings of economics.

          • Fortunately for them, the USPTO has, pursuant to its statutory authority (which is well-grounded in the constitution, unlike about 90% of what the federal government does), granted them a limited monopoly.

            In what sense do software patents "encourage the progress of science and the useful arts"?

          • The only thing stoping Microsoft from having a complete monopoly is the closest we have to subverting copyright: the GPL.

            Pretty much all OSes and major software that can compete against MS are GPL or BSD licensed software, that is software that is license with the specific intent to go around copyright. If copyright didn't exist there is no reason to believe people would have not tinkered with software and hardware to make things more useful than what big, abusive corporations would have provided otherwise.

            • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

              The only thing stoping Microsoft from having a complete monopoly is the closest we have to subverting copyright: the GPL.

              BZZZZZT! Wrong, you've got it backwards. The only thing keeping GPL'd OSs alive are anti-trust laws which have consistantly smacked Microsoft down when they get heavy-handed. Without them Microsoft would have crushed the competition years ago.

              Linux and Mac OS would not stand a chance without these laws, and even with them only Mac OS offers any sort of competition, and that's primarily proprietary on top of a small BSD core.

              So your argument for the heroic GPL is a little off-kilter. Break it down - Propr

        • A patent troll with a PoC is still a patent troll.

          I've always thought that not actually creating and/or selling any products that use the patents your company owns was part of the definition of patent troll.

      • Patten troll or not? (Score:5, Informative)

        by goombah99 (560566) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @09:41PM (#29080367)

        Except the company suing them aren't patent trolls. If you took a minute to check out their site, they legitimately offer services that directly relate to what they're suing about.

        First off I would have to disagree that your assertionis correct (see below). But at the same time I would assert that the technique in question might be on the hairy edge of patentable, making them legitimate--maybe.

        Okay so what is the patent about? Well it's not about using XML to store documents. It's about a somewhat specific way of storing xml for documents in file systems or streams that has gains some efficiency over the conventional XML format. Specifically you write the documents plain text out as raw plain text without any XML tags. Then in separate location you write our all the xml tags. After each tag you write a pointer to the chearacter position in the plain text where the tag needs to go. The claim is this means that if you change formats you don't have to re-write the file with the plain text thus making it a lot faster to update (and you can imagine stream on the cloud). The second patented feature is that this allows one to store multiple "views". That is one could have multiple different xml tag sets for the same text body. Besides simply being a view, this is useful also for undo's

        So you can see this pertains basically to "fast saves" of big documents, and possibly to cloud applications.

        It's pretty easy to imagine other ways to skln this cat if you had too. FOr example, store diffs which I think is how the older MS fast saves work anyhow. But in the cloud world I bet just using XML views rather than diffs is slightly more javascript freindly given all the existing XML based code. plus it makes i more of an open standard.

        SO while MS could work around this, it will make the resulting document less open format. a terrible irony.

        One could question howver if this is really patent worthy. I'd say maybe. it does have tangible advantages and back when it was patented it might have been the first time for xml to be encoded this way (I have no idea on that). But it also seems kinda obvious. Many XML documents sort of do that in a way already. They insert some labeled format tag which we call a "style" then put the detailed XML description of that "style" in the document header. SOr example apple's pages does that, and presumbaly most processors with style sheets have done that. But that's still a bit different than actuall pointers.

        So maybe maybe it's patent worthy. I'd say no. but it's arguable.

        ANyhow getting back to the parent's assertion that they market this, well thats nonsense. this is a technique that once you tell it to someone is generic. No one would hire you to implement it for their own product so you can't sell any services here. And any specific implementation is irrelevant. FOr example this is not going to affect their competitiveness in selling a word processor.

        • by cenc (1310167)

          Shit, I violated that patent 10 times yesterday before my first cup of coffee and did not even know it. Good thing I am judgment proof (i.e. very small bank account).

        • by johannesg (664142)

          It's about a somewhat specific way of storing xml for documents in file systems or streams that has gains some efficiency over the conventional XML format. Specifically you write the documents plain text out as raw plain text without any XML tags. Then in separate location you write our all the xml tags. After each tag you write a pointer to the chearacter position in the plain text where the tag needs to go.

          How can that even be called "XML" in the first place? XML has a specific format, described in a standard - and it describes the tags as being in-line with the data. A format that separates them, no matter how useful it might be, is not XML.

  • As we all know, when someone (usually a non-techie or a PHB) says "All you have to do is blah blah" it usually means it will be far from simple and easy.

    • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:51PM (#29079195)

      Nah, removing the ooxml code is easy. Telling your customers "all of the documents you've saved since 2006 won't be readable by new installations" is the hard part. This is a non-story, we all know obviously they can take the code out, but it doesn't help their users who have docx documents.

      Maybe they could offer a downloadable component like they have for old versions of Word?

      Also, what does this mean for openoffice?

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @06:02PM (#29079257) Journal
        I'd assume that whichever judge imposed the injunction would take a very dim view of MS offering a "product + download" to circumvent the injunction; but IANAL, and there could be some subtlety that makes that legal(incidentally, I can well imagine that, if it applies to the OOXML plugins for 2003, there'll be some weeping and gnashing of teeth among certain major corporate customers).
        • by jonbryce (703250)

          The work-around is that they are no longer using the patented invention. That is complying fully with the requirements of the injunction.

      • by HiThere (15173)

        According to GrokLaw's informal analysis, OpenOffice doesn't use this patent. This is a patent on custom extensions to the standard.

        Caution: IANAL. I may well have misunderstood the argument. But the conclusion was that OpenOffice isn't affected by this particular patent.

        • by hedwards (940851)
          That's possibly true, as I don't believe that MS has ODF proper fully functional support yet. I suspect this probably has to do with their XML version as I'm pretty sure that Word didn't have any support at all for ODF until relatively recently.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by budgenator (254554)

        if memory serves me correctly the patents main feature was storing all of the XML in a single file, Open office seems to do this as well. The difference is OO uses several files that are compressed into a single archive. You can take a OO file and run gnuzip on it and all the file uncompress; Microsoft could do the same and simple add a converter to open the old format, split it into seperate files internally and store it as a single archive.

        • But you can open a docx as an archive and see each resource. It works with winrar (everything works in winrar) and probably 7zip too.

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          The patent is on storing the XML tags in one file and the raw text with pointers in another file, then combining the two on the fly. The two files are stored in a container that the software knows what to do with (obviously).

          This is supposed to make saving large documents significantly more efficient, and makes conversion to other formats simpler and quicker. The OO format apparently doesn't operate in this specific way, perhaps it uses a similar but different methodology that does not infringe the patent

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by kripkenstein (913150)
        You are right, removing OOXML will lead to a large amount of consumer confusion and annoyance - so yes, this is very problematic.

        In addition, even removing OOXML won't solve the entire problem with this patent. Despite TFA (and the summary) saying

        The injunction doesn't apply to existing product that has already been sold

        that is only true for Microsoft - but not for Microsoft customers . A user of Word can be sued by the patent holder, simply because that user infringes upon the patent (that the user didn't write the code doesn't matter at all). If a user is in fact sued, Micr

        • by Ritchie70 (860516)

          IANAL but wouldn't the patent holder have to sue each Microsoft user individually?

          I don't think there's a "reverse class action" lawsuit to sue a class of people.

          • Yes, they would need to sue individual users separately.

            In practice, they would sue a small number of very big users - just like SCO did with Linux, in fact. Basically, pick a few huge corporations that use Microsoft Office... not hard to find.
        • by pfleming (683342)
          TFA seems to suggest that it only applies to custom XML tags ie. not the default tags.

          Custom XML allows people to create forms or templates such that words in certain fields are tagged and then can be managed in a database...

          This would seem to actually affect only a limited number of MS customers. Perhaps large customers, but limited in numbers.

          Large companies and government agencies, for example, might create such templates.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I know of an easy solution: sign a patent license agreement with the patent holder!

      • by HiThere (15173)

        What if they don't want to sign?

        (Well, of course there's the suggestion in the sibling post. But MS wouldn't do anything illegal, would they?)

  • Right, easy.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirLurksAlot (1169039) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:55PM (#29079217)

    All Microsoft has to do is disable the custom XML feature, which should be pretty easy to do

    Spoken like a true end-user. As a developer, almost every single time I've ever said something would be "easy to do" code-wise it has come back to bite me in the ass. I've learned not to use that phrase for anything, especially for things that really do seem easy to do. Now it is "I'll see what is involved in that request and get back to you." End-users always seem to think things will be easy to change. Disabling a feature in a widely used application like Word that likely has a ton of legacy code in it is probably not as easy as one might think. I'd also be skeptical about this statement considering it is coming from the opposing lawyer and not from one of MS's own engineers.

    • Not to mention the fact that this would require a new run of DVDs having to be specially burned, new packaging which would have to be approved of, etc.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tomhudson (43916)

        This would remove the "extend" from "embrace, extend, extinguish (the competition)".

        Also, anyone who read the judgment already knew this. This is NOT news.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Oh it's very easy for the lawyer to do, he just tells his client to disable it and *poof*! It's done!

      Remember, computers run on magical mystical blue smoke that can do ANYTHING as long as you don't let it out!

    • by HiThere (15173)

      It should be easy to do. Just make a new run of MSWord 2000. It didn't use XML, so it definitely didn't violate the patent.

      Of course, that means that you won't be able to open docx files. Opening those files, though, would require using the patented technology. So you can't do it. (Or can you? OpenOffice can, I believe, open those files...but I'll admit I've never tried.)

      Maybe MS could just start distributing OpenOffice? Of course, once OpenOffice got sued it would be forced to remove the ability to

  • by Sfing_ter (99478) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:56PM (#29079223) Homepage Journal

    I wanna see this shit play out - M$ is going to attempt to tell a Judge that they "fixed" it by disabling something - (then perhaps a hacker can - re-enable it)... wonder if this... ahem "JUDGE" will accept this...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by FudRucker (866063)
      why not, they convinced a judge that internet explorer is part of the windows OS when there are plenty of third party apps that can remove it...
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        So in other words adware, toolbars and spyware should be perfectly allowed because a third party program can remove them?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        And break the control panel, countless apps, filters for image formats, and I'd wager a whole slew of other things. Internet Explorer may not be part of the OS like a kernel module to a Linux Kernel, but it is an expected part of the Operating System and is the foundation for Explorer and a mess of other Microsoft and 3rd Party applications. You take it away, you essentially have a broken system.
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @06:03PM (#29079265) Journal
      Your honor, we've moved all the offending code to hot_coffee.dll, and made sure that it is not accessible to users...
    • Except for the fact that what business would want to rely on fixes by a hacker to keep Office as it was?
      • by Dare nMc (468959)

        not sure why you think it would bother i4i, the patent holder, that a third party would then be allowed to write a Solution to XML Authoring in Microsoft® Word [i4i.com]? Some reason they don't like Microsoft building that tool into word without sharing some of the profits.

      • by Sfing_ter (99478)

        Perhaps "Hacker" was an incorrect term and - "a hack" to set it to work again - would have been a more appropriate statement. Never mind that the person creating a "HACK" would be dubbed a "HACKER".

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @05:58PM (#29079239) Journal
    Or does he not quite understand the reaction of a few million angry customers, who've just discovered that "Word" now doesn't read "Word documents" and have been blandly told "Oh, we changed the SKU number from 3454234 to 3454235, didn't you notice? You should have seen KB65564 for clarification of Microsoft Office Product SKUs."

    Seriously, doing that would make the whole Vista Ready vs. Vista Capable debacle look like a 10 dollar parking ticket. What a stupid plan.
    • by DJRumpy (1345787)
      The summary said it doesn't affect products that have already been sold. You didn't even need to go into TFA to find that much.

      These millions of customers won't even notice. Word also defaults to .DOC so it's unlikely it will have that much of an impact, even if they do remove .XML support from new products after Oct 10th. Unless someone goes out of their way to save or open an XML doc, they won't notice.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sirsnork (530512)

        Uh, not the last time I used it. Word defaults to docx in it's default state. THats not to say you can't change that preference via group policy or just doing some menu digging, but out of the box it most certainly saves to docx by default

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Yes, but if your whole office has MS Word with XML, and you need to get the new employee a computer, you can no longer get a license for Word with XML, just Word sans XML. So now the new person at the office can't read any of the existing documents. And all the existing users have to make sure they only use the old .doc version.
        • by DJRumpy (1345787)
          I doubt it would affect licensing for an existing product. If you are purchasing an additional license, you already own the product itself. Your new employees would get the same version as everyone else in your company, which again wouldn't have this restriction. Only new products sold after October 10th.
  • by Kilz (741999) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @06:05PM (#29079275)

    If Ms got rid of the ability to add custom XML, they would never be able to Extend the specification they proposed, and so Extinguish competition while everyone else plays catch up.

  • I hear the sound of the millions of ./-ers sighing with relief.

  • Custom XML (Score:4, Informative)

    by imemyself (757318) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @06:33PM (#29079459)
    Complying with this would *NOT* involve removing support for the Open XML formats (.docx, .xlsx, .pptx, etc). This is related to Custom XML, which is described as:

    âoeCustom XML is the support for custom defined schemas. Itâ(TM)s that support that allows you truly integrate your documents with business processes and business data. You can define your data using XML Schema syntax, and then you can use that data in your Office documents. By opening up our formats with our reference schemas, and supporting your custom defined schemas, you get true interoperability of your documents.â

  • by russotto (537200) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @06:38PM (#29079489) Journal

    They could hire someone to dig through the IBM research journals and patents on the General Markup Language and its successor SGML, and find some prior art. They might even have some prior art of their own related to RTF. This patent sucks; it's on a basic technique that anyone writing a program to read a document with inline tags would at least consider, and I find it hard to believe it wasn't actually used on occasion.

  • Convert all DOCX documents to DOC format to prevent some Microsoft Office update removing the XML features and thus shutting people out of their DOCX documents.

    What does the judge think of this ODF plug-in converter [sun.com] for MS-Office? Does it violate the XML patent as well as Sun Office and OpenOffice.Org and IBM Lotus Symphony?

    • by hedwards (940851)
      Because the patent covers the extensions to the format that allow for the information to be made more readily available as a form for a database. And ODF doesn't in and of itself do that. Unfortunately neither does docx. From what I gather it's the fact that it's an extension to the docx format that's in question.
  • by baboo_jackal (1021741) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @07:41PM (#29079829)
    So the patent works like this: Instead of storing markup within a document, you instead store the markup separately from the raw data and then map each markup element to a character position in the raw data, like this:<br><br>

    --Original document--
    <foo>This is a foo</foo><foo><bar>This is a foo bar</bar></foo>

    --i4i patented storage--
    Raw document:
    This is a foo This is a foo bar

    Metadata Map:
    1 <foo> 0
    2 </foo> 13
    3 <foo> 14
    4 <bar> 14
    5 </foo> 31
    6 </bar> 31

    The idea is that you should be able to edit the raw data, or the markup, independently of one another. The patent outlines three core scenarios: 1) Taking an existing document with inline markup and separating the text and the markup, 2) Generating a "separate data and markup" document from scratch, and 3) Combining the markup and raw data of a doc generated from scenario 1 or 2 back together to produce a document with the markup inline.

    So why is this neat? The patent claims that you can edit both the content and the markup independently of one another. Except that you would require a specialized editor that manipulates both components to be able to do this and still maintain the "mapping" of markup to raw data. Hate to say it, but I can already do this on normal, inline-markup documents using notepad, or any WYSIWYG HTML editor.

    The other claim is that you could apply any map to any raw data. Except that, unless the character positions of semantic elements in the raw data were exactly where the "Metadata Map" expected them to be, the result would be a huge mess. Practically speaking, the application of a metadata map to multiple documents (since the map is based on character position) would most likely require additional inline tags to align the separate metadata to the content, thus defeating the whole purpose of the patent. Or maybe you could establish a "standard sentence length" in order to allow one map to be applied to different documents - that would be great. :P

    I'm having a hard time understanding how the technology described in this patent is actually useful at all, let alone how Microsoft has infringed on it.
    • Odd, that's how styled text was stored on Mac OS at least as far back as 1990, probably earlier. You had the text, and a style table which was just a set of runs for each style, with changes between. But it's insanely obvious; either you store meta-information inline, and have delimiters, or you store it separately, and include pointers (text offsets) to what they apply to.
    • by speedtux (1307149) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @09:28PM (#29080313)

      I'm having a hard time understanding how the technology described in this patent is actually useful at all, let alone how Microsoft has infringed on it.

      It's crappy technology (and there is prior art too). However, it happens to be the format that Microsoft uses in Microsoft Office's native XML format. I think Microsoft used it because it maps more naturally onto Microsoft Office's internal data structures. The correct way to accomplish this goal is, of course, with style sheets.

      ODF, instead, uses XML markup the way it was intended to, so the patent shouldn't apply.

      The patent may also be the reason for Microsoft's sudden reversal and support of ODF a couple of years ago.

  • ...and throw the tens of thousands of old copies into a landfill. No harm done!

    (E.T. will be impressed).

  • All Microsoft has to do is disable the custom XML feature, which should be pretty easy to do, then give that a different SKU number from what's been sold so it's easy to distinguish the two versions.

    I'd better get out my debit card, go get some cash from the ATM machine after entering my PIN number, and buy some copies before they remove this feature...

  • by speedtux (1307149) on Saturday August 15, 2009 @09:30PM (#29080321)

    The "easy technical workaround" for Microsoft is to dump their crappy OOXML format (which infringes this patent) and switch completely to ODF (which doesn't seem to).

    Maybe this patent lawsuit is the reason why Microsoft started supporting ODF in the first place.

  • Is this cryptic lawspeak for "cash up front"?

  • It is the end of patents as we know it, and I feel fine.

    Everyone sing along now.

    It is the end of patents as we know it, ....

  • Hummm..... Another option to get around the patent would be to use ODF. THAT would be easy, and free to boot!

"Any excuse will serve a tyrant." -- Aesop

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