MS Word Injunction 'Irreparable Harm', says Microsoft

Dennis Faas's picture

It seems the troublesome Microsoft Word injunction is finally unearthing some real emotion from the Redmond-based software giant. In a recent court filing, Microsoft, sounding a bit desperate, warned that if the injunction continued to move forward it could inflict "irreparable harm" on the company.

Some of you will recall that late last week a Texas federal judge ordered Microsoft to halt the resale of its very popular Microsoft Word because several of its functions -- those involving XML (.XML, .DOCX, or DOCM) -- infringe on Toronto-based i4i's patent.

Issue More Serious Than Expected

Microsoft first reacted to the news with an expected, very corporate reaction: official disappointment and the promise of an appeal. It didn't seem that the injunction would even be that injurious, with one legal expert dismissing the issue as overblown, and arguing that Microsoft could easily skirt the issue by releasing a new version of Word without the XML conflict.

That, however, might be more difficult than we all imagined.

"If left undisturbed, the district court's injunction will inflict irreparable harm on Microsoft by potentially keeping the centerpiece of its product line out of the market for months," Microsoft revealed in a recent court filing. (Source:

In fact, it doesn't appear Microsoft has an easy fix for the problem and that the issue could seriously impact the viability of its virtually essential Office software. "The injunction would block not only the distribution of Word, but also of the entire Office suite, which contains Word and other popular programs," the company announced.

Unable to Recoup Funds

The company was even more direct when it stated that it "will never be able to recoup the funds expended in redesigning and redistributing Word, the sales lost during the period when Word and Office are barred from the market, and the diminished goodwill from Microsoft's many retail and industrial customers." (Source:

In other words, the "you shall not pass" approach imposed by that Texas judge could seriously hurt Microsoft, one of the United States' largest employers. The company has already laid off thousands of its workers this year, and the underlying threat appears to be that more layoffs could come if the injunction is not soon reversed.

Microsoft has until October 10 to resolve the patent conflict.

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