Office Injunction Goes Live, Microsoft Pulls Productivity Suite from Online Store
Article by George Norman
On 12 Jan 2010
On the 11th of January 2010, the injunction imposed by the court of appeals on Microsoft’s Office productivity suite went into effect. Consequently the Redmond-based software giant, who was unable to modify some SKUs and Office versions so as to remove the infringing custom XML technology, had to pull some versions of the Office productivity suite from its online store as well as the download sites of its subscribers. As Computerworld noted, the only version Microsoft’s store served yesterday was the $679 Office Ultimate edition.

If everything you’ve read above made absolutely no sense whatsoever, here is the story so far. 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, mainly patent 5787449, which refers to a method of reading XML. The judge ordered Microsoft to top 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.


It did not end there, much to the dismay of i4i, who felt “vindicated” by the ruling. Oh no, Microsoft appealed the case. And much to its dismay this time, the court of appeals ruled in favor of i4i. Microsoft was ordered to pay i4i a total of $290 million and an injunction on all infringing software was imposed. Office versions that contain the infringing feature could no longer be sold by Microsoft.

Microsoft said it prepared for the injunction and it modified its products to comply with the court’s ruling. Microsoft also said that it is “in the process of introducing the new software into our distribution channels.” “We've taken steps to comply with the court's ruling, and we're introducing the revised software into the U.S. market,” said Microsoft in a statement late on Monday. “This process will be imperceptible to the vast majority of customers, who will find both trial and purchase options readily available.”

It should be noted that Office 2010, which is supposed to be released this summer, does not include custom XML, hence it has nothing to do with this legal squabble.

It should also be noted that Microsoft is not letting i4i win this one. The company is asking US judges to take another look at their ruling. In this regard Microsoft filed a petition with the US Court of Appeals for both a rehearing by both a panel and the full set of judges presiding over the case.

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