Judicial System Once Again Hits Microsoft Hard
Article by George Norman
On 23 Dec 2009
Back in August, Redmond-based software giant Microsoft was ordered by Judge Leonard Davis, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, to stop selling Word 2007 in the US because it infringed a patent held by i4i Inc – Word 2010 has yet to be released as a final, stable version and on top of that, it doesn't include the patent-infringing technology.

Toronto-based company i4i Inc held the rights to patent 5787449, which refers to a method of reading XML. Microsoft Word infringed that patent, so the judge ordered Microsoft to stop selling and importing any MS Word and MS Office products that can open XML, .DOCX or DOCM files that contain custom XML. The judge also ordered Microsoft to pay i4i Inc close to $300 million in damages.

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At the time, i4i was pleased with the verdict. As 141 founder said at the time, “we feel vindicated by this result.” Microsoft representatives on the other hand believed this verdict to be unfair and considered an appeal.

That’s what we knew so far – but the story does not stop there, it goes on. It seems Microsoft did indeed appeal the case. After all, you did not expect Microsoft to pay $300 million and stop selling Word in the US, now did you? The thing is that the appeals court ruled in favor of i4i. The court of appeals once again ruled that Microsoft infringed on i4i’s patent. The Redmond-based software giant has to pay i4i a total of $290 million and has to comply with the court’s injunction by January 11th, 2010. The injunction applies to Word 2007 and Office 2007 copies sold in the US on or after the injunction date. Word 2007 and Office 2007 copies sold before January 11 are not affected by the injunction.

"With respect to Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007, we have been preparing for this possibility since the District Court issued its injunction in August 2009 and have put the wheels in motion to remove this little-used feature from these products. Therefore, we expect to have copies of Microsoft Word 2007 and Office 2007, with this feature removed, available for U.S. sale and distribution by the injunction date. In addition, the beta versions of Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Office 2010, which are available now for downloading, do not contain the technology covered by the injunction."

"While we are moving quickly to address the injunction issue, we are also considering our legal options, which could include a request for a rehearing by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals en banc or a request for a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court,” commented Director of Public Affairs with the Microsoft Corporation, Kevin Kutz.



Tags: Microsoft, XML, i4i, Court, Lawsuit, Word, Office
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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