Texas Judge Bans Microsoft From Selling Word in the U.S.
August 12, 2009 8:10 AM
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A Texas court has banned sales of Microsoft Word and copies of Microsoft Office containing word until a final decision is reached in a copyright infringement trial. Microsoft has 60 days to cease sales.
Microsoft also faces more damages over willful infringement
Microsoft's Office 2003 and 2007 wove XML into Word, with the introduction of .docx, otherwise known as
Office Open XML
, as the format of choice. The new format brought an open standard and better storage to the application. Unfortunately, it also turned into one of the company's biggest legal headaches.
In making Office, Microsoft implemented technology seeming covered under a 1998 patent (
) by a developer of collaborative-based content solutions, Toronto-based i4i. The patent covered "manipulating a document's content and architecture separately."
A Texas federal court ruled in May that Microsoft had infringed on the i4i's patents and ordered Microsoft to pay
$200M USD in unpaid royalties
. Microsoft was reportedly hurt in the proceedings by a published trail of emails that indicated that the company knew that it was infringing on i4i's work. Microsoft disagreed strongly with the verdict and promised to fight it in appeals court.
Now a US District Court of Eastern Texas judge, Judge Leonard Davis, has ordered
sales of Microsoft Word in the U.S. banned
until a final judgement is reached. The injunction also came with an order for Microsoft to pay an additional $40M USD for willful infringement, $37M USD in prejudgement interest, and $21,102 per day in additional fines. The court also is asking that Microsoft hand over $144,060 a day, until the final judgement and damages are paid (though it may get some of this money back).
Until the final decision is reached, Microsoft is banned from selling any version of Microsoft Office containing copies of Word that can open .XML, .DOCX, or DOCM files containing custom XML. Microsoft has a mere 60 days to comply with the injunction.
With Office being one of Microsoft's staple products, and with the .docx format being the current default format, an appeal seems inevitable. Microsoft has not issued a formal response yet to ban on Word sales.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
8/12/2009 9:30:47 PM
Regardless of whether or not you support Microsoft, this is more evidence of a REAL problem in the patent system. Patents should NOT be issued for software unless it is a
specific way of doing something. "A way to separate content from the architecture" is
too general. As others have pointed out, it can be applied to a lot of different software technologies. They need to fix the system so that these stupid patents aren't awarded to companies.
8/13/2009 4:05:10 AM
Exactly. Otto didn't patent 'A way to motivate a carriage along a road or other such path'. He didn't even patent 'an internal combustion engine'. He patented a very specific design involving pistons, cylinders, and the Otto thermodynamic cycle. There's more than one way to skin a cat. Skinning a cat, in the first place, is not a patentable concept.
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