Microsoft has lost an appeal in a patent infringement lawsuit, and must therefore stop selling current versions of Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Word 2007, as well as the 2003 versions of the software, on January 11th, 2010. Microsoft announced Tuesday that it had been preparing versions of the 2007 versions of its products that did not use the infringing algorithms, and that the current betas for Office and Word 2010 were likewise free.
The case had been brought by i4i, a Toronto-based firm that develops and markets plugins for Microsoft Office to make the suite XML-friendly. When Microsoft integrated similar capabilities in Office 2003 and 2007, i4i sued, claiming Big Redmond was infringing on a patented algorithm.
A Texas jury agreed, and Microsoft was ordered to pay US$240 million in damages, and i4i received an injunction preventing Microsoft from selling the infringing software in the U.S.
Microsoft appealed the injunction and award in August of 2009, and it was on this appeal the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled, upholding the damages and the injunction. According to the injunction, Microsoft must cease selling the infringing software on January 11th, 2010.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Microsoft has said that it has been developing versions of its software that were free of the infringing algorithms, and that sales of Office and Word in the U.S. shouldn't be interrupted. It has also been developing the next major version of Office without the code.
Mac versions of Office and Word were not named in the suit.