Will consumer ever see Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007 suites and products which strip off the activation requirements where users no longer need to activate the software after installing? If you’re administrator or manager who feels that activation is additional step that wastes your time and causes lost productivity, you would certainly hope that z4 Technologies wins its lawsuit against Microsoft to stop using the copyright infringement anti-piracy technology on two latest Microsoft product – Vista and Office 2007.

The technology at issue is the multi-step manual or automatic product activation/authorization process implemented in Vista and Office 2007, along with the system infrastructure behind the activation process handled by the company’s servers, and its grace period and software disabling concept. The measure are designed to block attempts to use a single password to activate multiple copies of a program, and ensure that the ratio is always one copy of program to one machine as per end user license agreement terms, thus reining in rampant piracy and unauthorized use. However, the method had ruled by US court and jury to be violating patents hold by z4 – 6,044,471 (Method and apparatus for securing software to reduce unauthorized use) and 6,785,825 (Method for securing software to decrease software piracy). Microsoft unsuccessfully appealed against the verdict and failed in attempt to invalidate the patents by claiming prior act existed in Brazilian Publisher ’98.

z4 Technologies latest court suit papers alleges that despite the jury verdict finding Microsoft in violation of the patents, Microsoft has made only an “insignificant change” in the product activation process in Windows Vista and Office 2007, but not to a degree that would make it no longer infringing the patents. z4 now demands for 3 times the damage compensation. Previous rulings without injunction on XP and older Office costs Microsoft $140 millions for willfully violate the patents. Microsoft hasn’t filed a response, but we won’t be surprise if they’ll fighting hard to repeal the infringement claim. However if Microsoft continues to lose the court case, it’s interesting to see if it will enter into settlements with z4 or simply drop activation process from the Vista and Office 2007, as most hopes.

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