I haven’t seen any official news reports on this yet, just a bunch of random blogs, but apparently a Texas federal court judge has banned Microsoft Word 2007 from being sold in the United States for breaking patent No. 5,787,449.
What it boils down to is that Microsoft’s use of OOXML (Office Open XML document format) violates the patent. The patent covers, “method and system for manipulating the architecture and the content of a document separately from each other.”
Many people are just going to say, “Yea! Microsoft is in legal trouble again!” However, this entire patent and lawsuit do not make sense to me. The patent was granted in 1994; however, the idea of separating architecture and content is far from that new. I am pretty sure that idea has been around since SGML was developed in the 1960s. I can’t understand how this patent was ever granted. It is far too vague and broad and “prior art” is everywhere.
Check here for vague and broad patent: Penny Arcade! – Patently Ridiculous!
I’m not exactly what this means. Technically, I am violating this patent right now in writing this blog. Modern web design is XHTML/HTML (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language) for content and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) for architecture. Microsoft is hardly the only group using this technique. OpenOffice.org had been using the OASIS Open Document Format, which uses a similar specification, long before Microsoft developed OOXML. For that matter, email has slowly began to incorporate CSS into email messages, so who knows, your email provider might even be violating this patent. Your medical records might even be violating this patent.
I know I’m siding with Microsoft, but in this case, they’re just getting picked on, in the sum of about $80 million.