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Judge orders Microsoft to stop selling Word

Patent-infringement ruling bars the software giant from selling of one its premier products as long as it contains a custom XML feature.

Updated at 9:20 a.m. PDT with comment from Microsoft.

A judge on Tuesday ordered Microsoft to stop selling Word, one of its premier products, in its current form due to patent infringement.

Judge Leonard Davis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a permanent injunction that "prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML," according to a statement released by attorneys for the plantiff, i4i.


Microsoft said it was disappointed in the ruling and that it would appeal the verdict.

"We believe the evidence clearly demonstrated that we do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid," Microsoft spokesperson Kevin Kutz said in a statement.

Toronto-based i4i sued Microsoft in March 2007 alleging that the Redmond,Wash.-based software giant violated its 1998 patent (No. 5,787,449) for a document system that eliminated the need for manually embedded formatting codes.

XML--an integral feature in Microsoft Word--is considered a "page description language," with one of its key qualities being that it is readable by people, not just machines. Unlike HTML, which has predefined tags, XML allows developers and users to define their own tags for data, such as price and product.

In May, a federal jury in Tyler, Texas, ruled that the custom XML tagging features of Word 2003 and Word 2007 infringed on i4i's patent and ordered Microsoft to pay $200 million in the case.

In Tuesday's ruling, Microsoft was also ordered to pay an additional $40 million for willful infringement, as well as $37 million in prejudgment interest. The order requires Microsoft to comply with the injunction within 60 days and forbids Microsoft from testing, demonstrating, or marketing Word products containing the contested XML feature.

However, it's unlikely Microsoft will take one of its biggest money-makers off the market. The injunction gives Redmond two months to pursue an appeal, craft a settlement, or implement a technical workaround that removes the technology found to be infringing.