Federal appeals court rules against Microsoft in Word patent infringement suit

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit [official website] on Tuesday affirmed [opinion, PDF] a lower court ruling [JURIST report] that Microsoft [corporate website; JURIST news archive] infringed on a patent of Canadian company i4i [corporate website] with portions of its Word 2007 word-processing software. i4i alleged that Microsoft willfully infringed on patents it held on XML technology, which was used extensively in Microsoft Word 2007. The US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas [official website] had ordered Microsoft to stop selling its Microsoft Word 2007 software, which contains patent infringing code, and to pay i4i $290 million in damages, but the injunction was stayed [JURIST report] while the appeals court reviewed the case. Microsoft said in a statement [press release] that it was already making plans to cooperate with the ruling:


With respect to Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007, we have been preparing for this possibility since the District Court issued its injunction in August 2009 and have put the wheels in motion to remove this little-used feature from these products. Therefore, we expect to have copies of Microsoft Word 2007 and Office 2007, with this feature removed, available for U.S. sale and distribution by the injunction date. In addition, the beta versions of Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Office 2010, which are available now for downloading, do not contain the technology covered by the injunction.

Microsoft plans to alter Microsoft Word 2007 to remove the infringing elements by the January 11 deadline so that sales are not interrupted.

Aside from the patent issues, Microsoft has faced numerous legal challenges based on antitrust and unfair competition allegations. Earlier this month, Microsoft settled [JURIST report] an EU antitrust suit, agreeing to allow European Windows users to switch to an alternative Internet browser beginning next year. In September, a South Korean court found Microsoft in violation [JURIST report] of antitrust laws for bundling software programs with its Windows operating system. The same court previously ruled in June that Microsoft violated antitrust laws [JURIST report], but dismissed the plaintiff's claims because they were not sufficiently linked to Microsoft's conduct.

 

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