A Texas judge has ordered Microsoft to stop selling its Microsoft Word application in its current form, as the software contains technology which violates a patent held by a third party.

Judge Leonard Davis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ruled in favor of i4i, a Canadian technology firm that claimed Microsoft violated its intellectual-property rights for custom XML in Word 2003 and Word 2007. The judge has issued a permanent order which prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the U. S. any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML.

Toronto-based i4i, which develops "collaborative content solutions," holds patent number 5,787,449. The company had originally sued Microsoft for patent violation in 2007 alleging that Microsoft has violated the 449 patent.

"We're not seeking to stop Microsoft's business and we're not seeking to interfere with all the users of Word out there," said Loudon Owen, Chairman, i4i.

Microsoft will pay $240 million in damages to i4i, plus court costs and interest.

"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," said Kevin Kutz, Microsoft spokesman.
Microsoft is also prohibited from providing technical support for infringing products sold after the injunction takes effect, or from "testing, demonstrating, or marketing the ability of the infringing and future Word products to open an XML file containing custom XML."

The judge informed that the injunction does not apply to versions of Word that open an XML file as plain text or which apply a transform that removes all custom XML elements, possibly paving the way for Microsoft to issue a patch that rectifies the problem.

i4i has about 30 employees and has been operational since 1993, has products in use by a number of large companies, including pharmaceutical names such as Amgen, Bayer and Biogen.
source - siliconindia.com