updated 02:40 pm EST, Tue December 22, 2009
MS must pay i4i and take Office off shelves
Microsoft on Tuesday lost its appeal against a $290 million infringement verdict that threatens to remove Word and the Office suite from the market. The US Court of Appeals has upheld a verdict that claims XML code in Word 2003 and 2007 violates patents developed by Toronto, Canada-based i4i for XML plugins. It also removes a temporary stay and would ban all sales of infringing copies of Word as of January 11th unless changes are made by Microsoft.
It's not certain if Microsoft can make simple alterations as the DOCX and DOCM formats are integral to Microsoft's Office bundle. It would also require pulling support for regular XML from the software. Software that supports the formats but doesn't use a similar implementation, such as iWork's Pages, OpenOffice and TextEdit, are exempt from the i4i-related ban.
Patent holder i4i has said it's "especially pleased" as it protects the relatively small company's development work.
Microsoft has tried to downplay the verdict and says it will comply with the injunction by pulling the "little-used feature" in a new version released ahead of January 11th. It also claims that betas of Office 2010 and Word 2010 don't include technology made by i4i but contradicts its claims of unimportance by saying it may demand an en banc rehearing in the Court of Appeals or a writ of certiorari, or a judicial review, from the Supreme Court.