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Patent Infringement Halts Sales of Microsoft Word

Submitted by jrlaw on Dec 23rd, 2009

A news report on WFAA.com gives the details of a recent court decision that has Microsoft under fire once again. The massive software company has been ordered to stop selling its hugely popular and widely used Microsoft Word products as of January 11, 2010. The issue with the products is that they infringe on a patent held by a Canadian software company known as i4i. In addition to the halt of sales, Microsoft has been ordered to pay the software company almost $290 million dollars in damages.


According to a story on the Financial Post, Microsoft was found to have knowingly incorporated patented technology that is used to open documents in the XML format. I4i, a company with just 30 employees, patented the technology in 1998, before Microsoft included it in their 2003 and 2007 versions of Microsoft Word. The injunction will keep Microsoft from selling or bringing in any of their products that have the means to open .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files that have custom XML.
Anyone who currently owns a Microsoft Word product will not be affected by the decision. The items will just not be available to buy after January 11, until Microsoft can develop a solution and produce a product that does not infringe on the patent. If you were planning to buy a copy of Word in the New Year you can still pick up a copy before the deadline. Alternately, there is a very workable free product available for download known as Open Office 3.11. This product has many of the capabilities of Word, Excel and PowerPoint and can read and write the proprietary formats of Microsoft’s products.