A federal appeals court upheld Tuesday, Dec. 22, a $290 million patent infringement suit against Microsoft. The suit, brought by I4i, a Toronto-based firm that sells XML software, claimed that Microsoft had infringed on I4i's patented XML editor in the 2003 and 2007 versions of Word.
The suit was filed in 2007, and in August a Texas jury sided with I4i. Judge Leonard Davis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas fined Microsoft $290 million and forbid the company from selling the offending versions of Word. Microsoft appealed, but that appeal was struck down Tuesday by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
These actions mean that as of Jan. 11, 2010, Microsoft may no longer sell existing copies of Word 2003 or Word 2007. The company may continue to provide customer and technical support to current customers. Microsoft may resume selling Word when the offending code is removed or a workaround is found.
"With respect to Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007, we have been preparing for this possibility since the District Court issued its injunction in August 2009 and have put the wheels in motion to remove this little-used feature from these products," said Kevin Kutz, Microsoft's director of public affairs, in a company statement. "Therefore, we expect to have copies of Microsoft Word 2007 and Office 2007, with this feature removed, available for U.S. sale and distribution by the injunction date. In addition, the beta versions of Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Office 2010, which are available now for downloading, do not contain the technology covered by the injunction.
"While we are moving quickly to address the injunction issue, we are also considering our legal options, which could include a request for a rehearing by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals en banc or a request for a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court."
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