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Hearing set for appeal of Word injunction

A federal appeals court set a Sept. 23 hearing to evaluate whether to uphold a ruling that would force Microsoft to stop selling Word in its current form.

A federal appeals court has scheduled a hearing next month to decide whether to uphold a ruling that would force Microsoft to stop selling Word in its current form.

A district court judge last week issued an injunction that would halt sales of any version of Word that includes a custom XML function that was found by a jury to infringe on a patent from Canada's I4i. In May, that jury also dinged Microsoft with $200 million in damages, an amount that the judge hiked to more than $290 million at the same time he ordered the injunction, which he scheduled to go into effect 60 days after the Aug. 11 ruling.

In a statement, I4i said that Microsoft's appeal will be heard on Sept. 23. Microsoft had asked for an expedited hearing on the matter.

"We firmly believe that the U. S. District Court made the right decision on the merits of the case," I4i Chairman Loudon Owen said in a statement. "We are confident that we will prevail on the appeal."

Owen said that I4i welcomes the speedy hearing. "This is a vital case for inventors and entrepreneurial companies who, like i4i, are damaged by the willful infringement of their patents by competitors; particularly competitors as large and powerful as Microsoft."

In addition to the appeal, Microsoft could also pursue a technical workaround that allows the custom XML function to work in a different way that doesn't infringe on I4i's patent, remove that feature from word, or pursue a settlement.

For its part, Owen told CNET News last week that I4i isn't seeking to see Word pulled from the market, but rather just to get Microsoft to stop infringing on his company's patents.

Microsoft was not immediately available for comment.