US court upholds ban on Microsoft selling versions of Word

23 Dec 2009

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A US court has upheld its decision to ban Microsoft from selling copies of its Word product which allegedly contains code belonging to Canadian software firm i4i that allows users to edit XML or ascertain a document’s contents.

In August Microsoft was ordered to pay a US$290m fine an injunction was filed to prevent the software giant 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.

Microsoft’s appeal of this decision was yesterday declined in the US Court of Appeals and the injunction against offending copies of Word being sold upheld.

It is understood that Microsoft has been prepared for such a judgement and that the offending code will be removed from versions of Office 2003 and Office 2007 sold after 11 January.

Beta versions of Word 2010 and Office 2010 will not contain the offending code.

“While we are moving quickly to address the injunction issue, we are also considering our legal options, which could include a request for a rehearing by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals en banc or a request for a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Kevin Kutz, director of Public Affairs, Microsoft Corporation.

By John Kennedy

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com