US court grants Microsoft temporary stay on Word ban

4 Sep 2009

Microsoft’s request to postpone an injunction banning it from selling its leading Word application has been accepted by the US Court of Appeals.

In a Texas district court earlier this month Judge Leonard Davis fined Microsoft US$290m for wilfully infringing the I4i patent and has filed an injunction to prevent Microsoft selling Word over the use of Extensible Markup Language (XML) documents.

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.

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.

It emerged last week that the two tech heavyweights Hewlett-Packard and Dell whose PCs are shipped using Microsoft’s Windows operating system requested that the judge reconsiders the ban or delays its implementation.

While Microsoft has succeeded in holding off an injunction that could have had a catastrophic impact on sales during the vital Q4 sales season, it won’t be able to delay the inevitable federal review of the case.

By John Kennedy

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