Technical Workaround Could Allow Microsoft Word Sales to Continue

Lora Bentley

There are new developments in the Microsoft - i4i patent dispute. Not that any of us are surprised.


First, according to InformationWeek, U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis cited "trial misconduct" when he added $40 million to the $200 million verdict awarded by the jury in the case. Court records reveal that Davis was not happy that Microsoft's attorney repeatedly misrepresented the law. Moreover, the attorney compared i4i to Troubled Asset Relief Program recipients, arguing that the company was "seeking a bailout."


Again, Microsoft plans to appeal the verdict, but has made no indication how quickly it plans to do so.


Second, at least one attorney says Microsoft can work around i4i's patent and keep selling Word without paying the Ontario-based software developer. According to Computerworld, Barry Negrin is a partner with the New York firm Pryor Cashman and has practiced patent and trademark law for 17 years.


Negrin says, "All Microsoft has to do [to work around the injunction] is disable the custom XML feature, which should be pretty easy to do, then give that a different SKU number from what's been sold so it's easy to distinguish the two versions."


He explained that the $200 million verdict entered against Microsoft compensates i4i for those versions of Word containing the custom XML feature that have already been sold. Thus, there's no need to provide an update to those users.

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