Patent ruling forces Microsoft Office upgrade

Microsoft is telling some Office users to update their software in order to comply with a patent infringement ruling.

Microsoft is telling new corporate customers to update versions of its Office suite and Access software package following a 2005 patent infringement ruling that required Microsoft to remove the patented software from its products.

Microsoft on Monday began notifying customers they are required to patch new corporate installations of Office Professional 2003 and Access 2003 to install Service Pack 2. Corporate customers with new installations of Office XP Professional and Access 2002 are required to install a special patch, Microsoft said.

In June, a California court ordered Microsoft to pay Guatemalan inventor Carlos Armando Amado US$8.9 million for infringing his 1994 patent for software to help transfer data between Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and the Access database using a single spreadsheet. The California jury rejected nine of the 10 patent claims Amado filed in the lawsuit.

The court required Microsoft to remove the patented software, a Microsoft spokesman said.

Existing corporate customers with volume licensing deals will not need to make the changes, because they will receive Service Pack 2 in their media kits, a Microsoft spokesman said. All customers can also download SP2 or the patch. Retail versions of the software packages will include a disk with Office 2003 SP2, he added.

"We understand that this will create an inconvenience for a small percentage of our customers and are committed to working with them through the process and easing the inconvenience as best as possible," Sunny Jensen Charlebois, senior product manager, for worldwide licensing and pricing at Microsoft, said in a statement.

The patch for Office 2003 is available at: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=57E27A97-2DB6-4654-9DB6-EC7D5B4DD867&displaylang=en

The patch for Office XP Professional and Access 2022 is at: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=7497D7F0-BEF5-4054-B854-B1240B5135F5&displaylang=en

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Grant Gross

IDG News Service

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