Microsoft Loses Appeal, Scrambles To Alter Word, Office

Microsoft Office software

Microsoft said new copies of Word 2007 and Office 2007 would be ready for sale by Jan. 11 to meet the deadline imposed by an injunction handed down by the court.

"We have been preparing for this possibility since the District Court issued its injunction in August 2009 and have put the wheels in motion to remove this little-used feature from these products," Microsoft said in a statement issued Tuesday afternoon after the court denied Microsoft's appeal of that injunction.

Microsoft was also careful to note that beta versions of Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Office 2010, which are now available for downloading, do not contain the disputed technology. Older versions of Word and Office also don't have the technology.

Earlier this year, i4i won a court case against Microsoft in which the Toronto-based software company charged that technology built into Word 2007 and Office 2007, used to customize XML code, violated a patent held by i4i. A jury agreed and awarded i4i $200 million in damages -- a figure that has since increased to $290 million with interest, post-verdict damages and fines added by the trial judge for "intentional infringement."

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In August, the judge granted i4i's request for an injunction halting sales of Word 2007 and Office 2007, effective Jan. 11, 2010. Today's court decision denies Microsoft's efforts to get that injunction overturned, giving the software vendor less than three weeks to comply.

"We couldn't be more pleased with the ruling from the appeals court which upheld the lower court's decision in its entirety," said Loudon Owen, i4i chairman, in a statement issued by the company after Tuesday's ruling. "This is both a vindication for i4i and a war cry for talented inventors whose patents are infringed. The same guts and integrity that are needed to invent and go against the herd, are at the heart of success in patent litigation against a behemoth like Microsoft."

"We are moving quickly to comply with the injunction," Microsoft said in its statement. The company said it expects to have copies of Word 2007 and Office 2007, with the disputed feature removed, "available for U.S. sale and distribution by the injunction date."

Microsoft said it is considering its legal options, including a possible request for a re-hearing by the Federal Court of Appeals or a review by the U.S. Supreme Court.