Microsoft is set to continue selling Word in the US despite a judge's order to stop the sale of the product. The company is relying on legal appeals and technical workarounds to circumvent the injunction made in a Texan district court.
The court gave Microsoft 60 days to comply with the injunction, which forbids Microsoft from selling Word products that let people create custom XML documents. The ruling, which also includes additional damages Microsoft must pay, are related to a patent infringement suit filed by i4i. Microsoft had already been ordered to pay $200 million for patent infringement.
The most common versions of Word on the market now, 2003 and 2007, both allow users to create custom XML documents.
Microsoft did not reply to questions about the affect the injunction will have on it and its ability to sell Word in the US. In a statement it said it planned to appeal the verdict.
An appeal could stay the injunction but even if the injunction stands, Microsoft could potentially strip the functionality from Word or possibly build a work-around.
The ruling is unlikely to affect anyone any time soon, said Michael Cherry, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft. "It's going to take a long time for this kind of thing to get sorted out," he said.
Custom XML allows people to create forms or templates such that words in certain fields are tagged and then can be managed in a database, said Loudon Owen, a spokesman for i4i. Large companies and government agencies, for example, might create such templates.
I4i's patent covers technology that lets end users manipulate document architecture and content.
Owen said that if the injunction stands, end users who use custom XML in Word will have to find another way to create templates. "Hopefully you're going to call us because our intention is to support custom XML," he said.
The judge also ruled that Microsoft should pay an additional $40 million for willful infringement of the patents and over $37 million in pre-judgment interest. That brings total damages to more than $290 million.