Federal appeals court bars sale of Microsoft Word

On January 11, the current version of Microsoft Word 2007 will be barred from sale in the United States. No joke. You might recall a Texas District Court judge ordered a similar injunction in August, giving Microsoft 60 days to comply, but the software giant (understandably) appealed.

Well, as the Wall Street Journal reports, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has now affirmed the initial ruling. Word 2007 in its current state will be banned, and Microsoft will have to pay $290 million to i4i, the Canadian content technology firm that was the plaintiff in this case.

As we wrote in August, i4i claims Microsoft violated U.S. patent 5,787,449, which defines a "method and apparatus for structured document difference string extraction." i4i's press release (PDF) says the complaint specifically centers on Word's ability to open files containing "custom XML."

Don't expect Word to go off store shelves altogether, though. The Wall Street Journal writes that Microsoft is moving quickly and "expects to have altered versions of Word 2007 ready" in time for January 11. The next major release of Microsoft's productivity suite, Office 2010, isn't affected by the injunction. Neither is the beta that came out last month.

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