Court orders Microsoft to stop selling Office 2007 by January 11th

Joachim Bean
J. Bean|12.22.09

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Update: A statement from Microsoft's director of public affairs, Kevin Kutz, clarifies the affected versions. Note that Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac was not cited as an infringing product, so this ruling is not applicable to Mac versions of Office.
We have just learned that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has denied our appeal in the i4i case. We are moving quickly to comply with the injunction, which takes effect on January 11, 2010.

This injunction applies only to copies of Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007 sold in the U.S. on or after the injunction date of January 11, 2010. Copies of these products sold before this date are not affected.

With respect to Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft Office 2007, we have been preparing for this possibility since the District Court issued its injunction in August 2009 and have put the wheels in motion to remove this little-used feature from these products.

Therefore, 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. In addition, the beta versions of Microsoft Word 2010 and Microsoft Office 2010, which are available now for downloading, do not contain the technology covered by the injunction.

While we are moving quickly to address the injunction issue, we are also considering our legal options, which could include a request for a rehearing by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals en banc or a request for a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Whoa. A judge for the The U.S. Court of Appeals has just upheld an earlier verdict forbidding Microsoft from selling both Office and Word after January 11th, 2010. This suit, which was filed by i4i, a creator of a XML plugin for Microsoft Office, alleged that Microsoft's Open XML format, which uses the DOCX and XLSX extensions that have been a part of Office on the Mac since Office 2007, violated i4i's patented XML handling algorithms. The court ruled in favor of i4i back in May, and Microsoft today lost their appeal, with the judge telling them that they don't have the right to sell the software as-is.

Microsoft now either has to attempt to appeal the ruling again, or settle with i4i (read as: "Ballmer has to write a big honking check"), and is currently considering further legal options. The company is also working to remove these features from Microsoft Office (possibly in time to release new versions of the old software on January 11th), and this ruling doesn't affect the upcoming Office 2010 for Windows. We'll keep you posted if anything further develops.
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