Judge Davis issued a
judgment recently that is set to go into effect in mid-October that
Microsoft from selling and importing Word in the U.S. in its
current form. Davis did give the software giant an out in his
judgment to continue selling Word by saying that only version with
support for XML were subject to the ban.
That would mean if
Microsoft patches its Word software to strip XML formatting or open
documents in plain text it could continue to sell the application in
America. Judge Davis' ruling also hit Microsoft with a fine of $240
million for unlawfully infringing upon patent number 5,748,449 owned
by i4i technologies covering a "Method and System for
Manipulating the Architecture and the Content of a Document
Separately from Each Other."
Microsoft has announced that
disagrees with the Davis ruling and plans to file an appeal in
the case. That comes as no surprise considering Microsoft Office made
about $3 billion for the software giant last year. Rather than issue
a patch or not selling Word in America, if Microsoft loses its appeal
it could simply license the technology from i4i.
suit that i4u brought against Microsoft also sought to bar Windows
Vista and the .NET Framework from the U.S. market, but Judge Davis
found those products didn’t infringe upon the patent in question.
The ruling against Microsoft has raised a number of questions about
patents in the software industry. Some feel software should be
covered by copyright like books while others feel that a patent is
appropriate for software as it is for hardware.