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Company also says that the ban will cause it "irreparable" harm

I4i's victory in its patent infringement case against Microsoft was a slap in the face for the Redmond juggernaut.  Not only did a judge order $290M USD in damages be awarded to i4i for Microsoft's violation of its XML patents, but it also ordered Microsoft to stop selling Word, in its current form, until a final verdict is reached.  Word currently uses the Office Open XML (OOXML) format, which infringes on i4i's patent.

As the days roll by and Microsoft's 60-day compliance windows closes, the company is pleading with courts to lift the injunction.  It says that if the injunction is not lifted it will likely be forced to stop selling Microsoft Office for several months. 

Writes Microsoft's defense team, "Microsoft and its distributors face the imminent possibility of a massive disruption in their sales. If left undisturbed, the district court’s injunction will inflict irreparable harm on Microsoft by potentially keeping the centerpiece of its product line out of the market for months. The injunction would block not only the distribution of Word, but also of the entire Office suite, which contains Word and other popular programs."

Some are puzzled, though, as to why Microsoft would stop selling Office, rather than simply changes it file format and distinguishing between the current and XML-less editions.  States Barry Negrin, a partner with the New York firm Pryor Cashman LLP who has practiced patent and trademark law for 17 years, "All Microsoft has to do is disable the custom XML feature, which should be pretty easy to do, then give that a different SKU number from what’s been sold so it’s easy to distinguish the two versions."

In the unlikely event that Microsoft does indeed carry through on its claim to stop selling Office, it could prove a headache for consumers and businesses, who rely on the software's functionality.  However, light-weight alternatives such as Open Office 3 (which nears Office 2007 in functionality) and Google Docs could get a brief boost if Microsoft Office disappeared for several months -- a prospect that has some excited.

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By nerdye on 8/20/2009 9:56:20 PM , Rating: 2
Remember when MS lost a lawsuit in 2003 about the way IE uses activeX, while the company that sued MS didn't go after mozilla, netscape, apple for safari, or whatever other browsers were around at the time. MS was forced to pull activeX native interaction from IE6 and to my knowledge was also fined 500+ million dollars at the same time (though I could be wrong on that). This to me feels the same, its MS again using a supposedly open standard that all the other competing products use and don't get sued for, but are getting sued for. The company I was working for at the time of the activeX lawsuit had to rework 3 of their best selling products which took an unbelievable amount of man hours to continue to support IE with its activeX changes.

These types of lawsuits make me feel like the software patent laws are still in the wild wild west so to speak, straight mining for gold. Rules need to change so gold digging companies like this can't create lawsuits so unjust.

Just look at rambus, they only have one product on the market, the ram in the ps3 if I'm not mistaken. But rambus procedes to make a killing each year suing the pants off of ddr companies (to my knowledge samsung exclusively) while not even having a memory product in the pc world!!!

By Fritzr on 8/21/2009 6:16:20 AM , Rating: 2
A patent is not a trademark. It works in similar fashion to copyright. You file a patent on an idea before anyone else does and you are granted a 20 yr transferable license on the idea. If someone wants to use your patent you can say yes, yes if you pay me, or no. Nowhere in the law is there a requirement that the idea actually be used. Some patents HAVE been used to keep products off the market for the life of the patent, just as copyright is often used to prevent anyone from publishing works the copyright owner prefers to bury.

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke

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