US sale of Microsoft Word threatened by court injunction

The US District Court in Eastern Texas, the hotbed of patent litigation where everyone from Apple to Nintendo has been found guilty, has granted an injunction on Microsoft Word on account of willful infringement upon patents held by Canadian software company i4i.

That's right. Judge Leonard Davis yesterday said that Microsoft can no longer sell Word 2003, Word 2007, or "Microsoft Word products not more than colorably different from Microsoft Word 2003 or Microsoft Word 2007," and must pay $200 million in damages to i4i.

In May, a jury found Microsoft guilty of infringing upon i4i's 1998 patent for "Method and system for manipulating the architecture and the content of a document separately from each other," and Judge Davis upheld the ruling.

The principal area of infringement is Word's support for XML files (.XML, .DOCX, and .DOCM), so this is not the end of this case by a long shot.

Microsoft has 60 days to appeal the ruling and stay the injunction, where it will have a chance to flex its new XML patent, which was awarded just over one week ago. Microsoft applied for the patent ("Word-processing document stored in a single XML file that may be manipulated by applications that understand XML,") nearly three years before i4i even issued a complaint about XML.

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