Judge Leonard Davis, based in the Eastern District of Texas, issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the company from “selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML,” according to a statement released by attorneys for plantiff, i4i. (That would be Microsoft Word 2003 and Word 2007.)
The company was also ordered to pay $200 million in damages and another $40 million for “willful infringement” of the patent.
Microsoft says it plans to appeal the decision.
The case, which never really pinged anyone in the media’s radar before today, stretches back to March 2007, when i4i accused Microsoft of violating its patent for a system saving users from having to embed command codes in their documents to control the formatting of text.
Despite the order, don’t look for Word (and, presumably, Microsoft Office) to disappear from store shelves. MSOffice is a $20 billion business for Microsoft and a key driver of profits.
The company announced plans last month to offer a free version of Word (and other Office tools) online beginning in the first half of next year.