MS Word Shutdown: US Appeals Court Rejects Microsoft

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has lost another appeal to keep Microsoft Word 2007 on store shelves in its current form. An appeals court on Tuesday found that the company had infringed on Canadian firm i4i's patent for a built-in XML editor.

Microsoft and i4i aroused much attention back over the summer, when a U.S. District Court judge in Eastern Texas found that the Redmond-based software giant had infringed on the much smaller Toronto company's patent for an XML editor that is a critical part of the Office program Word.

Rather than immediately set about changing the program to avoid the patent conflict, Microsoft decided to fight on -- and it appears that it did so in a losing cause.

U.S. Court of Appeals Sets Jan. 11 Deadline

"In this case, a small company was practicing its patent, only to suffer a loss of market share, brand recognition, and customer goodwill as the result of the defendant's infringing acts," the U.S. Court of Appeals said Tuesday. (Source:

Microsoft has until January 11 to remove the conflict XML editor and replace it with something else. The Redmond company will be barred from selling versions of its popular word processing software so long as it includes documents saved in the .XML, .DOCX or .DOCM formats. (Source:

Microsoft Vows to Change MS Word

Surprisingly, it seems Microsoft is ready to admit the game is lost and remove the offending technology from Word.

In a statement, the company strongly suggested that it has been preparing for this result and has the capability to adapt the XML editor so as to not rip off i4i. "With respect to Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007, we have been preparing for this possibility since the District Court issued its injunction," Microsoft said in a statement.

Furthermore, Microsoft doesn't expect the issue to prevent home or business users from getting their hands on copies of Word. "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."

The appeals court decision appears to have marked the end to a lengthy battle between i4i and Microsoft, which started with the Canadian company's original suit in 2007.

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