Word off the street - US judge stops Microsoft selling Word
Like staring at a Magic Eye picture, you more you read this story, the more you may find yourself thinking it's utter bullshit. Apparently it's not. It still doesn't make a lick of sense in the real world, though.
A US judge has ruled that Microsoft can no longer sell Word because of patent infringement. Yes, that Microsoft Word, which is pretty much installed on every desktop PC in the world. The complaint originates with a company called i4i and a patent they filed in 1994, eventually issued in 1998:
"A system and method for the separate manipulation of the architecture and content of a document, particularly for data representation and transformations. The system, for use by computer software developers, removes dependency on document encoding technology."
What i4i claimed was that they created the method and architecture for reading XML documents, now commonplace in Microsoft's 2003 and 2007 versions of Word. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas yesterday ruled in favour of i4i, ordering a permanent injunction that "prohibits Microsoft 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." And then there's the small matter of $290 million in damages that Microsoft have been ordered to pay. Carumba.
"We are disappointed by the court's ruling," said a Microsoft spokesperson, providing the understatement of the year as he patted down his trousers for a couple of million in change. "We believe the evidence clearly demonstrated that we do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid. We will appeal the verdict." Microsoft has 60 days to comply with the ruling, but will no doubt spending their time and money on having the impossible-sounding injunction overturned.