A judge in Texas has told Microsoft that it cannot sell Microsoft Word - more specifically the versions that support .XML, .DOCX or .DOCM - in the United States.
A little known company i4i based in Toronto, Canada (which some would certainly call a patent troll), won an injunction against Microsoft over the company's use of XML technology.
More specifically, the Order and Permanent Injunction were signed today by Judge Leonard Davis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division and specifically “prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML”.
The company has been ordered to pay more than $290 million in damages for "willfully infringing on the i4i patent" has been given 60 days to comply with the ruling according to Seattle PI. All versions of Word from 2003 have the ability to create XML documents
A spokesperson for Microsoft said that the company was "disappointed by the court's ruling" and that it believes "the evidence clearly demonstrated that they do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid". He further added that the company plans to will appeal the verdict.
The ruling comes more than two years after the plaintiff first sued Microsoft over the fact that Microsoft Word violated patent number 5,787,449 for "a document system that eliminated the need for manually embedded formatting codes."
Office is one of the two cash cows - the other one being Windows - that Microsoft has and helped the company earn more than £9 billion in profit in 2008. It is not known whether i4i is planning to sue Sun Microsystems over the use by OpenOffice.org of XML.