[Linux-aus] More software-patent nonsense wreaking havoc

Arjen Lentz arjen at mysql.com
Tue Feb 8 08:40:07 UTC 2005

Ichitaro is a very popular word processor in Japan that has been on the
market for more than 20 years.  The patent used against it basically is
about an icon that brings up a help text.  Matsushita is one of those large
corporations that want to impose a "patent tax" on smaller players.

Please read the Slasdhot posting as well as the Bloomberg and IDG reports

In another case, Yahoo sued a rather small U.S. games software company for a
feature that displays in an instant messenger if someone is playing a
certain game.


Fallout From Japanese Patent On Help Icon

from the interesting-times dept.

MeridianOnTheLake writes "The Tokyo District Court has ordered the
destruction of Ichitaro, a software product that is the only serious
competitor in Japan to Microsoft Word, and has been on sale since 1985. The
ruling is based on the claim of a competitor, Matsushita, that the use of a
help icon to invoke a help function infinges on one of their patents. "We
are a global enterprise and we are just following international practice to
enforce our IP rights," Kitadeya (Matsushita) said." Here's more on the
story, as covered by Bloomberg and The Japan Times.


Justsystem Ordered to Stop Selling Ichitaro, Hanako Software

Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Justsystem Corp., a computer software developer, said
it was ordered by the Tokyo District Court to suspend production and sale of
its word processing and graphics software because of a patent dispute. It
said it will appeal.

The court yesterday ruled in favor of a patent lawsuit filed in August by
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. for Justsystem's `Ichitaro' and `Hanako'
products, the company said in a statement distributed at the Tokyo Stock

Justsystem, based in Tokushima Prefecture in western Japan, can continue
selling the software pending a final judgment. There is no change in its
schedule to start selling the 2005 version of `Ichitaro' and `Hanako' on
Feb. 10, the company said.

Justsystem shares fell 3 yen, or 0.5 percent, to 600 yesterday.


Friday, 4 February, 2005

Tokyo court orders popular word processor off market
Software maker vows to appeal

Paul Kallender, Tokyo

The Tokyo District Court has suspended the production and sale of a word
processing program that is the only serious competitor in Japan to Microsoft
Word. The court also called for existing stocks of the program, called
Ichitaro, to be destroyed. Justsystem, which develops the software, said it
plans to appeal.

The court ruling came in a patent dispute brought by Matsushita Electric
Industrial against Justsystem. The suit involved Ichitaro and a graphics
program called Hanako that is also sold by Justsystem, according to

The dispute centered on the way that a help function works in the Ichitaro
and Hanako software. The way the software presents information violates
Matsushita patent number 2,803,236, which was registered with the Japanese
patent office in 1998, according to Matsushita.

On Tuesday, the court granted Matsushita's claim of patent infringement,
Matsushita said. Details of the ruling will be released in a few weeks, and
Matsushita had no further comment to make at this time, Matsushita spokesman
Yoshihiro Kitadeya said on Wednesday.

Justsystem started selling Ichitaro in August 1985 at the dawn of the
personal computer industry in Japan. It sold the first version of Hanako in
March 1987. While most word processing software is sold preinstalled on PCs,
Ichitaro holds 78% of the market in Japan for word processing software sold
separately at retail.

Justsystem is not taking the court's ruling lying down. It intends to appeal
the decision  which also asks it to pay legal costs  within two weeks at
the Tokyo High Court, says Yoichi Matsumoto, a company spokesman. Justsystem
argues that its help function is based on established technologies that are
not covered by any patent, according to Matsumoto.

Matsushita declined to say whether it thinks any other software vendors may
be infringing its patent. It also would not say what licensing terms it was
seeking from Justsystem.

Justsystem has shipped over 18 million units of Ichitaro since 1985. It
accounted for about 4.8 billion yen (NZ$65 million), or about 38%, of the
company's 12.6 billion in annual sales in 2004, Matsumoto said.

Matsushita, which sells its products under the Panasonic brand, claimed it
was forced into legal action with Justsystem after its concerns were
repeatedly ignored by the company, Kitadeya said. It first approached
Justsystem in 1998, asking that it recognise its patent and agree to pay
royalties, but received no response, he said.

Matsushita then applied for a temporary injunction on the production and
sale of Ichitaro and Hanako in November 2002, but withdrew that action in
June 2003, he said. In August 2004, Matsushita filed suit again and asked
the court for a permanent ban on the production and sale of both software
titles, Kitadeya said.

"We are a global enterprise and we are just following international practice
to enforce our IP rights," Kitadeya said.

[end of forwarded items]

Arjen Lentz, Community Relations Manager
MySQL AB, www.mysql.com

MySQL Users Conference (Santa Clara CA, 18-21 April 2005)
Early registration until February 28: http://www.mysqluc.com/
21 days left for early registration, 69 days until the event!

More information about the linux-aus mailing list