Court Blocks Microsoft Word Sales in U.S.

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Microsoft received a surprise blow on Tuesday when a U.S. District Court Judge ordered the company to stop selling Microsoft Word in the United States. The order came as part of a ruling in a patent infringement case launched by i4i.

According to i4i's suit, the company owns a patent that saves users from having to embed command codes in their documents to control text formatting, and Microsoft's XML formatting feature infringes on that. The patent in question, number 5,787,499, describes a system that removes the need for individual, manually embedded command codes to control text formatting in electronic documents.

The Judge's order blocks Microsoft from selling or importing into the United States any version of Word that can open documents containing custom XML which includes .XML, .DOCX and .DOCM files. While the injunction blocks the sale of Word in its current state, it doesn't prevent Microsoft from selling versions of the application that open XML documents as plain text.

The court ordered Microsoft to pay over US$290 million in damages. Microsoft has 60 days to comply with the court order, and the company plans to appeal the ruling. Microsoft has not yet publicly responded to the ruling.

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11 Comments Leave Your Own

Tiger

Cease is the word.

Khaled

Maybe MS will stop C&Ding; companies that have “windows” in their name ... “windows commander” for example. heh. Karma ..

Lee Dronick

That coulld hurt Microsoft if the case has merit. People may be buying new PCs to take advantage of Windows 7 and would also buy Office or Word. My wife just finished a college course that required she use the latest version of Office. She said that she likes that version of Word better than the older ones.

jbruni

“If the case has merit”? The circuit judge who ruled against MSFT seemed to think so.

This puts MSFT in an awkward position. MSFT has been a staunch defender of software patents. They can try to appeal the case on the basis that the patent is invalid. But, if they pursue invalidating the patent, the court might blow the case open to rule on software patents in general. MSFT probably doesn’t want to go there. If they do nothing, they are prohibited from selling Word.

Lee Dronick

?If the case has merit?? The circuit judge who ruled against MSFT seemed to think so.

I said that because this court seems to be the place to go for these jindf rulings. It may not stand on appeal.

I am sitting at the Costco food “court” while my car gets some tire service. In the store they are selling Office Student Home Edition for $79

Lee Dronick

Sorry about the typo. I didn’t see that when I was composing post, I am using my iPhone in landscape mode,  I type better in portrait mode.

Nemo

Sir Harry is correct.  This court is not the most respected of the federal court.  Had this been the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, I would give the judges the benefit of doubt and say that Microsoft is in real trouble.  With this court, I’d want to study the opinion.

Also, it isn’t hard for Microsoft to modify Word to avoid the patent, if the patent is valid and Microsoft is in fact infringing on it.  Microsoft could revert to its prior file formats or create another file format or, and here’s a thought, Microsoft could use ODF file formats pursuant to the terms of ODF’s open-source license and allow existing users to translate existing Word files to ODF.

Nom

5,787,499 is listed in the USPTO as “withdrawn”.  Is there a more accurate number somewhere?

Dennis

Okay, fellow Mac fans, let’s not be hypocrites. If it were Apple being sued you’d all be screaming bloody murder about patent trolls.

Lee Dronick

Okay, fellow Mac fans, let?s not be hypocrites. If it were Apple being sued you?d all be screaming bloody murder about patent trolls.

I don’t see anything hypocritical about our posts.

Jeremy Bicha

The patent is actually 5,787,449. Thanks!

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