Court Sides with i4i in Patent Appeal, Microsoft Must Modify Word

Lora Bentley

Remember all the fuss when Toronto-based development company i4i sued Microsoft, claiming the XML capabilities built into the latest versions of Microsoft Word infringe a patent it has held since 1998?


Patent No. 5, 787, 449 covers "manipulating a document's content and architecture separately." In May 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas decided versions of Microsoft Word that can open .XML, .DOCX, or DOCM files containing XML infringe the patent, and ordered Microsoft to pay i4i $200 million in royalties. Microsoft appealed the ruling, and in August, the federal district court enjoined the sale of those versions of Word until the case was resolved.


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit granted Microsoft's request to stay the injunction and then heard the parties' arguments on the merits of the case in September.


Tuesday, the appeals court rendered its decision, according to CNET News. And it wasn't good news for Microsoft. Tom Krazit writes:

Microsoft has lost an appeal in a patent case that will force it to alter Microsoft Word to avoid an injunction on sales of the product...Microsoft said it planned to remove the feature from all copies of Microsoft Word 2007 that will be sold on or after January 11, 2010. Prior copies of Word 2007 are not affected by the injunction, and Word 2010 is being designed without the infringing technology.


Microsoft representatives have also indicated they will pursue legal options while they work to avoid the injunction, according to CNET. Options include asking for a rehearing before the entire Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (a rehearing en banc) and/or requesting a hearing from the U.S. Supreme Court.

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