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A US Judge Orders Microsoft to Stop Selling Word

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A Texan judge has ordered Microsoft to stop selling MS Word in US because it infringes on a patent hold by i4i.

i4i, a Toronto based corporation, filed a complaint (PDF) in March 2007 alleging that Microsoft is infringing a patent:

United States Patent No. 5,787,449 (“the ‘449 Patent”) entitled “Method and System for Manipulating the Architecture and the Content of a Document Separately from Each Other,” … issued … on July 28, 1998.

The complaint specifies that Microsoft infringes the patent through

… making, using, selling, offering to sell, and/or importing in or into United States, without authority, Word 2003, Word 2007, NET Framework, and Windows Vista.

Also, Microsoft’s acts are considered deliberate:

Microsoft has knowledge of the ‘449 Patent, and has not ceased its infringing activities. Microsoft’s infringement of the ‘449 Patent has been and continues to be willful and deliberate.

The complaint contains a copy of the ‘449 Patent.

Leonard Davis, a US District Judge, has issued his final judgment (PDF) yesterday (Aug. 11th) finding that:

  • Defendant Microsoft Corporation (“Microsoft”) is found to have unlawfully infringed U.S. Patent No. 5,787,449 (the “‘449 patent”).
  • Defendant Microsoft is found to have infringed the ‘449 patent willfully.
  • The Court awards damages to i4i for Microsoft’s infringement of the ‘449 patent in the amount of $200,000,000.
  • i4i is further awarded enhanced damages of $40,000,000 for Microsoft’s willful infringement.
  • i4i is further awarded post-verdict damages of $144,060 per day from May 21, 2009 until the date of this Final Judgment.
  • i4i is further awarded pre-judgment interest of $37,097,032 up to May 20, 2009 and $21,102 per day thereafter until the date of this Final Judgment.

That is about 290 million dollars and counting. Even more, the injunction (PDF) accompanying  the judgment forbids Microsoft to sell Word 2003, Word 2007, and future Word products in US or to use them to “open an XML file containing custom XML,”  but allows Microsoft to open XML documents as plain text files. The judge did not mention .NET Framework nor Windows Vista although i4i included those in their complaint.

Kevin Kutz, a spokesman for Microsoft, said

We are disappointed by the court's ruling. We believe the evidence clearly demonstrated that we do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid. We will appeal the verdict.

It is clear that Microsoft will appeal the verdict and will probably settle the issue outside the court. It is interesting that i4i makes x4o, an XML authoring tool for MS Word, so it is obviously not interested in killing Word.

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Community comments

  • God Bless America!

    by Srikanth Remani,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    enough said

  • The last time this happened

    by Amr Elssamadisy,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    As I recall, the last time this happened was with Netscape back when Clinton was president and the lawsuit stayed in appeals until Bush got elected and it was dropped.

    I wonder if this will be finalized while Obama is still in power ;)

  • Is it April 1?

    by Jim Leonardo,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    This sounds like an april fools joke. I find it incredulous that a judge would be so bold as to say stop on this when it's a nebulous patent.

    These trolls sound like they're also claiming a browser being able to apply CSS to XML is infringing on their patent.

    We need more rational laws and a real patent appeal process that is reviewed by actual technologist. The first thing I would do is "just because it's a different underlying technology, if the concept is the same, no patent", the second would be "if you're just wiring up two existing technologies without adding any innovation other than putting the two together like peanut butter and chocolate, no patent". Also, where's the suit against Sun and open office?

  • will court documents stop opening?

    by Greg Hopkins,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    I find it very funny... I bet the judge and all the professionals involved in the case all USED Microsoft Word creating these case documents.

  • Funny company name

    by David karlsen,

    Your message is awaiting moderation. Thank you for participating in the discussion.

    i4i - or eye-for-eye ...

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