Microsoft has been ordered by a judge to stop selling Microsoft Word and ordered to pay $290-million in damages after losing a patent infringement lawsuit. Christine Persaud in MarketNews:
Patent No. 5,787,449 refers to custom XML, and a particular “Method and System for Manipulating the Architecture and the Content of a Document Separately from Each Other.” i4i LP, which invented this technology, filed suit against Microsoft in March 2007, stating that the software giant was infringing on its technology by utilizing it in certain Word products, and argued that this infringement was “willful”.
What happens now?
In addition to the monetary recuperation, there is now a permanent injunction against Microsoft for custom XML in Word 2003 and 2007. The company is now prevented from selling, offering to sell, and/or importing in or into the U.S. any infringing and future Word products that have the capability of opening a .XML, .DOCX, or .DOCM file containing custom XML, and from using any infringing and future Word products to open an XML file containing custom XML.
What happens next?
Microsoft will appeal this very serious black eye. The verdict and pronouncement came from Judge Leonard Davis, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, long known as a court of harbor in patent litigation for David and Goliath battles. Good for David, not for Goliath. Juries there seem to relish decisions favoring David at the expense of Goliath, and more verdicts are overturned on appeal than other locales. Microsoft’s Kevin Kutz:
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.
Duh. The real question is, “How fast can Microsoft move?” The judge issued a permanent injunction which goes into effect in 60 days, which gives Microsoft time to mount an appeal. Links to PDFs of the complaint, judgement, and injunction are available here.