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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 vice president of Web & Digital Strategy for 1105's Enterprise Computing and Education Groups, where she oversees the front-end Web team and deals with all aspects of digital strategy for the groups. She also serves as executive editor the ECG Web sites, and you'll even find her byline on PureAI.com, the ECG group's newest site for enterprise developers working with AI. She recently gave a talk at a leading technical publishers conference about how changes in Web technology may impact publishers' bottom lines. Follow her on twitter @beckynagel.

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