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Word. Not Yours.

Posted by susabelle at 7:44 AM on August 12, 2009

MSOfficeiWord (yes, pun intended) comes today that a Federal District Court judge has barred the sale of Microsoft Word until further notice.  The ruling stems from a patent infringement lawsuit brought byI4i, a software company located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  The infringement relates specifically to customized XML being used in the creation of XML and/or DOCX files. In addition to the ban on sales of Microsoft Word, part of the Microsoft Office Suite, Microsoft has been ordered to pay over $287 million in restitution and damages.

Microsoft plans to appeal the decision, which means that any implementation of the ban could be put off indefinitely.

In the meantime, Microsoft can start working on removing XML functionality from Word or find another workaround to the ban.  And I imagine with a bit of extra greasing of palms, this whole thing will go away as if it never happened.

Here is the summation of the ban from the court record:

Microsoft Corporation is hereby permanently enjoined from performing the following actions with Microsoft Word 2003, Microsoft Word 2007, and Microsoft Word products not more than colorably different from Microsoft Word 2003 or Microsoft Word 2007 (collectively “Infringing and Future Word Products”) during the term of U.S. Patent No. 5,787,449:

1. selling, offering to sell, and/or importing in or into the United States any Infringing and Future Word Products that have the capability of opening a .XML, .DOCX, or .DOCM file (“an XML file”) containing custom XML;

2. using any Infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML;

3. instructing or encouraging anyone to use any Infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML;

4. providing support or assistance to anyone that describes how to use any infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML; and

5. testing, demonstrating, or marketing the ability of the Infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML.

One Comment

  1. From Mark Brown at 10:35 am on August 12, 2009

    I agree that there will most likely be some palm-greasing in the near future to make this all go away.
    While Microsoft is certainly no angel in regard to restrictive patents, how are they in violation of a patent that is all but identical to a patent they were just granted? i4i’s patent is only a few months older than the one granted to MS. That would mean that both companies would have been developing their product (if i4i even has a product other than patent-trolling) during the patent-pending period. How can you be in violation of something that you developed during that period, and were subsequently granted your own patent for?
    The whole thing just highlights, again, what a disaster our current patent system is.