Federal appeals court upholds ban on Microsoft Word sales

Software giant must remove patent-infringing technology from MS Word software by Jan. 11, 2011, or stop selling the software

Microsoft must stop selling its Microsoft Word software starting Jan. 11 if it can't remove patent-infringing technology by that time, according to a federal appeals court ruling released today.

The appeals court also upheld a judgment of about $290 million against the firm, plus interest and court costs.

The ruling stems from a lower-court case earlier this year in which a jury found Microsoft guilty of willfully infringing on a custom XML-related patent owned by Toronto-based i4i (United States Patent No. 5,787,449). The original judgment ordered Microsoft to stop selling Word products that have the capability of opening a .XML, .DOCX, or .DOCM file containing custom XML.

According to a statement released by Microsoft Director of Public Affairs Kevin Kutz, Microsoft has "been preparing for this possibility since the District Court issued its injuction...and have put the wheels in place to remove this little-used feature" from Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007, the products affected.

"Therefore, we expect to have copies...with this feature removed available for U.S. sale and distribution by the injunction date." Beta versions of Microsoft Word 2010 do not contain the technology covered by the injunction.

Kutz also stated that while the company is preparing to comply with the injunction, it is also considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

i4i did not release a statement regarding the ruling by press time.

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the executive editor of the 1105 Redmond Media Group's Web sites, including Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com, RedDevNews.com and VisualStudioMagazine.com, among others.

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