Microsoft gets reprieve in Word case

An appeals court issued a stay of an injunction that would stop sales of Word

An appeals court has granted Microsoft's request to put off an injunction that could have forced it to stop selling its Microsoft Word software next month.

Microsoft had appealed a court decision from mid-August that gave it 60 days to stop selling Word products that allow users to create custom XML documents. The ruling, which also includes additional damages Microsoft must pay, stemmed from a patent infringement suit filed in 2007 by i4i. The court has ordered Microsoft to pay more than US$290 million in damages in total.

The most common versions of Word on the market now -- Word 2003 and Word 2007 -- both allow users to create custom XML documents. Custom XML lets people create forms or templates so that words in certain fields are tagged and can be managed in a database. The technology is used by large companies and government agencies, for example.

If the appeals court ultimately upholds the injunction, Microsoft could potentially develop a workaround that avoids using the disputed technology or strip the capability from the products.

I4i's patent covers a technology that lets end-users manipulate document architecture and content. It filed its case in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, and the injunction had been set to begin on Oct. 10.

Microsoft said it was pleased with the appeals court decision and that it looks forward to presenting its case at a hearing on Sept. 23.

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