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Mon Jun 09 2008, 20:23

THE UK UNIX USER Group may have to drop its legal challenge to Microsoft's controversial international document standard because it doesn't have the money to see it through.

On Thursday, Britain's High Court refused the UK Unix User Group's (UKUUG's) application for a judicial review into the UK's endorsement of Microsoft's application for its OOXML document standard to get an international certification.

Alain Williams, chairman of the UKUUG, said the group had grounds to resubmit its application because the court had been mistaken to reject it.

However, he said the UKUUG didn't have enough money to cover the costs of its action, which was a request that the High Court consider that the British Standards Institution (BSI) had no grounds to vote in support of Microsoft at the International Standards Organisation.

"We are casting about for a sugar daddy," said Williams.

Mr Justice Lloyd Jones rejected the UKUUG's application for a judicial review last Thursday, giving the group until the break of dawn this Friday to raise a legal fund for an appeal.

"This application does not disclose any arguable breach of the procedures of BSI or of rules of procedural fairness," said Justice Jones on Thursday.

"In any event, the application is academic in light of the adoption of the new standard by ISO," he added.

But the UKUUG said today the judge got in wrong on both counts. OOXML had not been ratified as a standard, it had merely been put on the fast track to certification.

Moreover, since the UKUUG applied to the court, it has emerged that there has been an unprecedented flurry of national appeals against the ISO decision to back Microsoft. Brazil, India, South Africa and Venezuela all appealed the ISO decision, effectively stalling the ratification of OOXML as an international standard.

"The decision to publish or not ISO/IEC DIS 29500 as an ISO/IEC Internatio nal Standard cannot be taken until the outcome of the appeals is known," said an ISO statement on Thursday. 29500 refers to Microsoft's standard.

Williams said there was still a case for the UKUUG's appeal on the grounds that there had been "procedural irregularities" in the BSI's decision to back OOXML. The BSI had supported the Microsoft standard after clearing a consensus vote in its favour among members. The UKUUG told the court there had been no consensus because one member, IBM's Ian Larner, had abstained after long opposition to OOXML's ratification.

Williams said the UKUUG may need as much as £50,000 to see its appeal through. µ


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