Microsoft fails in Word patent appeal

The US Federal Appeals Court has upheld a ruling that Microsoft willfully infringed a patent belonging to Canadian firm i4i Inc.

According to i4i, the revised opinion affirms an August 2009 judgement that said Microsoft infringed a patent related to the creation of custom XML documents.

It claimed that Microsoft was in the bad by using certain Word 2003 and all Word 2007 products to process XML documents. The case was won, meaning that Microsoft was ordered to stop selling versions of Word with XML capabilities.

Microsoft was ordered to pay damages of more than $200 million. The upheld ruling means that Microsoft ‘willfully’ infringed the i4i patent, and were perfectly aware of it.

In a statement i4i chairman Loudon Owen said: “The appeals court has again upheld the lower court’s decision in its entirety.

“In addition, it issued a more detailed analysis in concerning the finding of willfulness in this case. The determination that Microsoft willfully infringed i4i’s patent stands.”

At the time of the original verdict, it was reported that Microsoft employees attended i4i software demonstrations, and even received sales kits which showed that it was patented.

Jack Schofield of the Guardian also wrote at the time that he wondered whether Microsoft had a rational legal strategy, as it had a track record of losing lawsuits. 

He believed that the company should have found some way to move the case, or at least change the Word code to stop infringing i4i’s patent.