Microsoft appeal against XML patent fails

December 23, 2009 | 10:27

Tags: #i4i #microsoft-patent #patent #xml

Companies: #microsoft

Microsoft has lost its appeal following a case in which it was found guilty of infringing a patent on XML support - and faces an injunction on the sale of its Office suite as a result.

As reported over on CNet, the case - brought against Microsoft by I4i back in May - accused Microsoft of infringing a patent with its support for custom XML in Word, which affected the opening and saving of .XML, .DOCM, and .DOCX files. Although Microsoft fought the accusations, a jury found the company in breach of patent law - which was immediately appealed.

Sadly for Microsoft, that appeal has now also failed - and an injunction enforced which will force the company to stop selling Microsoft Office 2007 from the 11th of January next year unless the infringing code is removed.

Although Office 2010 - the next release of the popular productivity suite - does not infringe the patent, the deadline means that Microsoft will be modifying Word 2007 to remove the ability to read and write custom XML to its files, which the company claims is a "little-used feature" anyway.

Kevin Kurtz, director of public affairs for Microsoft, said of the ruling that his company is "considering our legal options, which could include a request for a rehearing by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals en banc or a request for a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court" whilst "moving quickly to address the injunction issue."

The company would do well to find a loophole, and fast: as well as the injunction, the ruling leaves Microsoft liable for the original settlement of $200 million (£125 million) in damages plus interest and charges since the original case was lost in May - which some are estimating could end up boosting the figure to a whopping $290 million (£182 million).

Are you pleased to see Microsoft brought to task for blatant patent infringement, or do you believe that the company is innocent of the charges against it? Will Microsoft end up paying the penalty or finding a cheaper way to settle the disagreement? Has anybody even used the custom XML ability within Word 2007? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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