Microsoft at a loss for ‘Word’ as judge orders US$290m fine

13 Aug 2009

A US judge has ordered Microsoft to pay a US$290m fine and has filed an injunction to prevent Microsoft from selling Word over the use of Extensible Markup Language (XML) documents.

XML allows for the formatting of text to make files readable across a variety of programs. Canadian firm I4i filed a patent in 1998 that outlined a way of “manipulating the architecture and the content of a document separately from each other” citing XML as a way of achieving this.

XML technology is a pivotal feature in 2003 and 2007 versions of Microsoft Word.

In a Texas district court yesterday Judge Leonard Davis fined Microsoft US$290m for wilfully infringing the I4i patent and has filed an injunction to prevent Microsoft selling Word.

The court case follows on from a previous case earlier this year in which a jury awarded I4i US$200m in damages from Microsoft for allegedly breaching patents. Microsoft vowed to appeal this.

The latest injunction prohibits Microsfot from selling or importing to the US any Microsoft Word products that are capable of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files containing custom XML.

The court gave Microsoft 60 days to comply with the ruling.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years