Weird Law Day: Big Time Jewel Heists and MS Word Enjoined

Yesterday I saw an article about a jewelry heist in London where two men in nice suits got away with $65 million of merchandise. The weird part to me was that the store had a similar event in 2003 where 23 million pounds worth of jewels were taken, and more recently in 2007 a branch suffered a robbery again with well-dressed, and this time chauffeured, men stealing 10 million pounds in gems. So that makes me wonder whether the rich really do trust those who seem rich (i.e. Madoff types) and then get ripped off. In addition, who is insuring and/or protecting these stores? Right now neither can be happy. Still that is small compared to the Microsoft news.

Ah, Texas! Or to be more precise the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, home to patent fun like no other place in the country (although I recall someone is showing how other district courts are now competing with E.D. Texas for the patent crown). It seems that Mighty MS and its Word program has been found to violate a patent. According to CNET “In Tuesday’s ruling, Microsoft was also ordered to pay an additional $40 million for willful infringement, as well as $37 million in prejudgment interest. The order requires Microsoft to comply with the injunction within 60 days and forbids Microsoft from testing, demonstrating, or marketing Word products containing the contested XML feature.” The order allows MS to take two months to appeal, settle, or work around the patent problem.

I wonder whether the injunction would require deauthorizing the sold versions? In addition, with the Blackberry case I think there was a carve out for the government because it relied on the system so much. Given Word’s dominance, I would hope that any court order that might threaten how people use already purchased software considers the impact that would have on millions of people. I am not saying that such a result is in the works or required by the current injunction. But if an injunction requires cutting off support or features, people may find that lose access to their works. Again whether the technology at issue would require such a result is unclear to me. Then again, as I argue in Property, Persona, and Preservation, as we move into a world where software and technology providers can update or cut-off access to one’s creations, such a result is not as impossible as it sounds. Can you say Kindle?

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