updated 11:10 pm EDT, Thu September 3, 2009
Court says MS can sell Word until appeal is done
The US federal Court of Appeals today granted Microsoft a temporary stay on an injunction that would have banned sales of Word until the conclusion of an appeal against the successful lawsuit filed by Canadian firm i4i. Originally, the developer would have had to stop sales on October 10th and would have forced Microsoft to shut down sales of virtually all copies of Office unless it could plead its case.
The suit accused Microsoft of infringing an i4i-held patent on producing custom XML code when it launched Office 2003, whose file formats started using the markup language. The smaller firm claimed its business has relied significantly on making custom XML through plugins that were allegedly copied and rendered at least partly redundant by Word 2003.
While Microsoft can potentially rewrite code to avoid violating the patent, the risk of a ban has triggered alarm in the Windows PC industry, where Dell and HP have joined in to support Microsoft's case. The two depend heavily on systems bundled with Office and would be forced to sell systems either preloaded with a competitor like OpenOffice or to go entirely without the software until an update is available.