A United States judge on Tuesday ordered Microsoft Corporation to stop selling Microsoft Word in its current form in the US as it infringes upon a patent owned by a Canadian company, i4i.
Judge Leonard Davis of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas passed an injunction to this effect and has given Microsoft 2 months within which the software giant must comply with the order.
A patent infringement lawsuit was filed by i4i in 2007 against Micrsoft. The judge on Tuesday forbade Microsoft from selling Word products which let people create custom XML documents. Microsoft has now been banned from selling or importing into the US any Word products which can open .XML, .DOCX, or DOCM files containing custom XML.
Microsoft Word allows users to create custom XML documents. i4i, based in Toronto, Canada, owns US Patent No 5,787,449, which the court said Microsoft had infringed upon.
The Texas judge also ordered Microsoft to pay the Toronto-based software developer $200 million in damages as reasonable royalty. Apart from that, Microsoft was also told to pay an additional $40 million for willful patent infringement and another $37 million-plus in interest, taking the total damages to over $287 million.
However, reports say that with Microsoft Corporation planning to appeal against the order, its sales of Word are not likely to be affected. Experts hint that even if the injunction stands, the software giant could find a remove the XML functionality from Word or find some other way to bypass the infringement.
The court order:
'Microsoft Corporation is hereby permanently enjoined from performing the following actions with Microsoft Word 2003, Microsoft Word 2007, and Microsoft Word products not more than colorably different from Microsoft Word 2003 or Microsoft Word 2007 (collectively "Infringing and Future Word Products") during the term of U.S. Patent No. 5,787,449:
1. selling, offering to sell, and/or importing in or into the United States any Infringing and Future Word Products that have the capability of opening a .XML, .DOCX, or .DOCM file ("an XML file") containing custom XML;
2. using any Infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML;
3. instructing or encouraging anyone to use any Infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML;
4. providing support or assistance to anyone that describes how to use any infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML; and
5. testing, demonstrating, or marketing the ability of the Infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML.'
Image: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
Photograph: Bogdan Cristel/Reuters