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Cognitive Computing : Article

Microsoft Word Ordered Off the U.S. Market

The decision impacts the current Word 2007 as well as the Professional Edition of its predecessor Word 2003

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a permanent injunction Tuesday prohibiting Microsoft from selling any Microsoft Word products in the United States that "have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML."

Microsoft, which means to appeal, must comply with the injunction within 60 days.

The decision impacts the current Word 2007 as well as the Professional Edition of its predecessor Word 2003 and implicates the feature, often demanded by the federal government, for creating custom tags to search files for specific information.

PC World says custom XML lets people "create forms or templates such that words in certain fields are tagged and then can be managed in a database."

According to Bloomberg, Merck and Bayer use i4i's widgetry to ensure people get the most up-to-date information on their medicine labels.

Microsoft has also been ordered to pay Toronto-based i4i Inc $290 million after failing to persuade the judge to overturn the decision.

The judge Tuesday upheld the verdict a jury came down with in May awarding i4i $200 million after it found Microsoft willfully infringed an i4i patent covering a document system that relies on XML custom formatting.

The judge braced the decision by ruling that Microsoft should pay i4i an additional $40 million for its willful infringement plus slightly more than $37 million in pre-judgment interest, including an additional $21,102 a day until a final judgment is reached in the case and $144,060 a day until the date of final judgment for post-verdict damages.

The $40 million was more than the $25 million i4i asked for willfulness.

Software covered by the 1998 patent removed the need for individual, manually embedded command codes to control text formatting in electronic documents.

Microsoft claimed it did not infringe and that the i4i patent was invalid.

However, in 2001 when asked by the federal government for the ability to create custom tags in Word, the company brought i4i into the conversation and said i4i could supply the function. Microsoft then started its own development and i4i lawyers entered Microsoft e-mail into evidence that said it would "obsolete" i4i.

i4i lawyer Doug Cawley expects Microsoft to rush to the appeals court seeking an expedited stay of the injunction. An appeal is likely to take a year, he said.

The patent at issue, No 5,787,449, was invented by i4i founder Michel Vulpe but is owned by i4i LP, a licensing entity affiliated with i4i Inc. McLean Watson Capital and Northwater Intellectual Property Fund are investors in i4i LP. i4i has spent around $10 million on the litigation so far, according to Cawley.

McKool Smith represented i4i.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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