Evidently, RealNetworks isn’t the only one getting the short end of the legal stick this week. CNet News reports that a Texas District Court judge has ordered Microsoft to halt sales of Word. Yes, Word. The Office component everybody and their dog uses to write letters, memos, and clip-art-laden flyers. Microsoft has 60 days to comply.
What’s the deal? Just over two years ago, Canadian content technology firm i4i sued Microsoft, alleging that Word violated U.S. patent 5,787,449—a "method and system for manipulating the architecture and the content of a document separately from each other." According to a press release from i4i’s law firm, Microsoft "willfully infringed" on the patent by selling software that "removed the need for individual, manually embedded command codes to control text formatting in electronic documents."
The injunction specifically covers Word versions that "have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML." Microsoft was already ordered to pay $200 million to i4i in May, and reportedly, the judge has added $40 million to the damages plus $37 million in prejudgment interest.
In another post, CNet News quotes this statement from Microsoft: "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." As the site points out, that 60-day deadline ought to give Microsoft enough time to come up with a solution without having to pull Word from store shelves.