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Federal Appeals Court Upholds Ban on Microsoft Word Sales

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 an approximate $290 million judgment against Redmond, 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 ('an XML 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]."

"Therefore, we expect to have copies...with this feature removed available for U.S. sale and distribution by the injunction date."

"In addition," he continued, "the 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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Reader Comments:

Mon, Jan 11, 2010

I guess this has to do with x4o? Whatever, i4i just needed some money from Microsoft; the funny thing is that they target ms office with stuff they do. Their corporate presentation is PowerPoint for the love of peter. So now instead of having office doing "these little used" features, you have to go and pay i4i for them when they have nothing to do with the way things are done? Just like that patent about using 3D in games bull…

Mon, Jan 4, 2010

Do I have to study this obscure patent and court decision to understand what is going on or is some enterprising journalist willing to do it and create a technical description of the problem? Having MS simply say it is not widely used is not useful to a geek.

Mon, Jan 4, 2010

I don't believe they are banning XML, it's just Words ability to open certain files with custom XML content. Hey, there's always OpenOffice

Thu, Dec 24, 2009 Jim

The federal courts are full of freakin' morons. No, I don't work for Microsoft - I just use products. Any court system that makes it harder for consumers (witness the Java fiasco) isn't worth having!

Thu, Dec 24, 2009 Jim L 2

The patent uses the term “metacode” that is defines as every way possible to describe, access, and manipulate data, which is a part of the data file. This is nothing new. Other companies have been using the same technique for years, embedding headers, descriptors, pointers, etc. into their data files. The company I work for has done this since the early 1990s in our own proprietary format. We even have embedded processing instructions for how the data is to be displayed and as to which other data files are to be used as standards for analyzing the current data file. Unfortunately, this patent came under the radar of other companies who have been doing the same thing for years.

Thu, Dec 24, 2009 Jim L

Why ban XML files? Computer text editors have been opening xml files for years. This is dumb. Also, isn't a Docx file a Microsoft invention? Then why can't they open their own file?

Thu, Dec 24, 2009

Will future "upgrades" to Word remove this feature from the copy of Word curently working on my machine?

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