A Federal Circuit Court has upheld a $290 million patent infringement verdict against Microsoft and kept in place an injunction barring Microsoft from selling current versions of its massively popularWord as of January 11. Microsoft says that they will make necessary changes to the program before the deadline and that new versions will be available.
The suit stems from the way MS Word uses XML, which classifies documents for retrieval by computers. MS Word contains code patented by a small Toronto company named i4i Inc. i4i sued Microsoft in Texas and a jury returned a verdict in favor of the Canadian company. The judge issued the $290 million penalty along with a permanent ban on the sale of Word 2003 and Word 2007.
Users of the current versions of Word will not be affected by the decision. Microsoft can continue to support existing copies of the software. The biggest losers may well be software retailers who will be unable to sell their stock after January 11 and computer retailers who frequently bundle Office, including Word, with new computers.