Judge Leonard Davis, of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, ruled Tuesday that Microsoft can no longer sell Microsoft Word in the United States due to patent infringement.
One can imagine Bill Gates having to pick himself off the floor after reading that ruling. Indeed, the ubiquitous software that you probably use every day infringes a patent, according to Davis.
To be perfectly honest, Davis' ruling simply upheld a $200M verdict issued in May of this year, when jurors found that Microsoft willfully infringed an i4i patent, (No. 5,787,449) on a method for reading XML.
According to the press release announcing the judgment, the injunction 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. Microsoft has 60 days to comply.
The injunction reads:
Microsoft Corporation is hereby permanently enjoined from performing the following actions with Microsoft Word 2003, Microsoft Word 2007, and Microsoft Word products not more than colorably different from Microsoft Word 2003 or Microsoft Word 2007 (collectively “Infringing and Future Word Products”) during the term of U.S. Patent No. 5,787,449:
1. selling, offering to sell, and/or importing in or into the United States any Infringing and Future Word Products that have the capability of opening a .XML, .DOCX, or .DOCM file (“an XML file”) containing custom XML;
2. using any Infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML;
3. instructing or encouraging anyone to use any Infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML;
4. providing support or assistance to anyone that describes how to use any infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML;
5. testing, demonstrating, or marketing the ability of the Infringing and Future Word Products to open an XML file containing custom XML.
This injunction does not apply to any of the above actions wherein the Infringing and Future Word Products open an XML file as plain text.
This injunction also does not apply to any of the above actions wherein any of the Infringing and Future Word Products, upon opening an XML file, applies a custom tranform that removes all custom XML elements.
This injunction further does not apply to Microsoft providing support or assistance to anyone that describes how to use any of the infringing products to open an XML file containing custom XML if that product was licensed or sold before the date this injunction takes effect.
Naturally, since Microsoft has 60 days to comply, you can expect that during those 60 days, some sort of appeal will be filed to allow Microsoft to continue selling the product. Either that, or Microsoft and i4i will come to some sort of an agreement (or will in the future).
Via Microsoft Blog