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Federal Circuit Upholds Injunction against Microsoft Word
David J. Torrente - 12/23/2009

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled against Microsoft in a patent case concerning its Word word-processing software.  The Appeals court affirmed an injunction by the lower court against continuing to sell Word in its current form, and reset the injunction to go into effect on January 11, 2010. 

In 2007, Microsoft was sued by i4i, LP in the Eastern District of Texas for infringing a 1998 patent dealing with the handing and revision of XML tags embedded within electronic documents.  Microsoft’s Word software has included XML functionality since at least 2003.  However, Microsoft disputed that Word infringed the patented method, and also challenged the validity of the patent over prior art from i4i and others.  A jury found the patent was valid and infringed, and that the infringement was willful.  The jury awarded $200 million in damages.  The District Court increased the damages by an additional $40 million in view of the finding of willfulness.

In a decision issued Tuesday, December 22, 2009, a 3-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the District Court in all practical regards.  It found the District Court’s claim construction was correct, affirmed the District Court’s refusal of Microsoft’s motions for Judgement as a Matter of Law on the issues of invalidity and non-infringement, alternately for a new trial, and that the District Court’s enhancement of damages was within its discretion. 

Following trial, the District Court issued a permanent injunction against Microsoft continuing to sell copies of Word including the infringing features.  That injunction was stayed by the Appeals court in September of 2009, pending the outcome of this appeal.  The Appeals Court found that the District Court set too stringent a timeline on Microsoft to design around the patent, and considering the time elapsed since the imposition of that injunction, reset the injunction to begin January 11, 2010.

The decision is available from the Federal Circuit at http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/opinions/09-1504.pdf.