Microsoft to alter Word after verdict | Shanghai Daily

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December 24, 2009

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Microsoft to alter Word after verdict


MICROSOFT Corp has said it will tweak its Word application to remove a feature judged to be a breach of patent, ensuring that it will be able to continue selling one of its most widely used programs.

The world's largest software company made the announcement on Tuesday shortly after a United States court of appeals upheld a US$290 million jury verdict against it for infringing a patent held by a small Canadian software firm.

The court also affirmed an injunction that prevents Microsoft from selling versions of its Word program which contain the offending software, set to take effect on January 11, 2010. Older versions of Word are not affected.

Microsoft said it is taking steps to remove the feature from Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007 put on sale from that date.

The disputed patent feature relates to the use of XML, or extensible markup language, used for manipulating text, in the 2007 versions of Word. Microsoft described it as a "little-used feature."

However, Microsoft did not rule out further appeals.

"While we are moving quickly to address the injunction issue, we are also considering our legal options," said Kevin Kutz, a Microsoft spokesman. He said that could include a request for a rehearing by a full panel of judges at the appeals court, or a request for a review by the US Supreme Court.

I4i, the Toronto-based software company which owns the infringed patent, welcomed the ruling.

"I4i is especially pleased with the court's decision to uphold the injunction, an important step in protecting the property rights of small inventors," said Michel Vulpe, founder and co-inventor of i4i, in a statement.

The ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles many patent and trademark cases, may signal the end-game of a long-running dispute between Microsoft and Toronto-based i4i Ltd.

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