This is scary, folks. If you use Microsoft Visual Studio to create web services, you could be subject to lawsuits for patent infringement. Yes, simply using a software program puts your company and livelihood at legal risk, yet another sign of how terribly flawed is the U.S. software patent system.
Fortunately, Microsoft is coming to save the day. Microsoft filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in San Francisco last week to defend users of its Visual Studio development tools. The lawsuit seeks to invalidate several patents that WebXchange is using to sue three large companies: Allstate Insurance, Dell computer and FedEx.
WebXchange is an online transaction services provider based in Menlo Park, California. The WebXchange lawsuits claim the online services offered by the three companies violate its patents. For example, WebXchange alleges FedEx infringes three patents in an online system FedEx launched four years ago that enables customers to send print jobs to its Kinko’s stores.
Microsoft is not named in any of the WebXchange lawsuits. In its suit, Microsoft asks the court to declare WebXchange’s patents invalid because they are overly broad and clearly based on existing technologies. These are common symptoms of bad software patents, of which there are way too many these days. Microsoft has attempted to negotiate with WebXchange, but WebXchange has refused to talk and has instead chosen to fight in court.
Allstate, Dell and FedEx have all sought indemnification from Microsoft. Most large software vendors indemnify their customers and accept responsibility for patent infringement and other legal problems caused by use of their products. It’s great to see Microsoft step up to the plate to fight bad software patents.
Article published on November 19, 2008
|If you like this article, please share it:|