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Microsoft loses patent appeal, must halt sale of Office by Jan. 11


Microsoft on Tuesday lost an appeal to be able to continue selling its popular Word software, which has been found in violation of a patent related to XML.

Microsoft was originally ordered to stop selling Word in August, after i4i Inc., of Toronto, Ontario won a suit over the program's ability to open .XML, .DOCX and .DOCM files, based on custom XML included in the file types. The court agreed to allow Microsoft to keep selling Word as the appeal went through the court. But Tuesday, that was denied by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Microsoft now has until Jan. 11, 2010 to stop selling all versions of Word and Office that infringe on the patents owned by i4i. In a statement, Microsoft said it is "moving quickly to comply with the injunction."

"With respect to Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007, we have been preparing for this possibility since the District Court issued its injunction in August 2009 and have put the wheels in motion to remove this little-used feature from these products," the company said.

"Therefore, we expect to have copies of Microsoft Word 2007 and Office 2007, with this feature removed, available for U.S. sale and distribution by the injunction date. In addition, the beta versions of Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Office 2010, which are available now for downloading, do not contain the technology covered by the injunction."

The injunction applies to copies of Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007 sold in the U.S. on or after the Jan. 11 date. Copies sold before the date are not affected.

"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," Microsoft said.

In September, Microsoft shipped Office 2008 for Mac Business Edition. The new SKU includes Entourage Web Services Edition and Microsoft Document Connection for Mac.

Microsoft also plans to release Office 2010 for Mac next year, along with a new version of Outlook built from the ground up for the platform. Office 2010 for Mac is expected to debut in time for the holidays next year.