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December 23, 2009

Court bars Microsoft from selling Office 2007

Posted: 10:23 AM ET

A federal appeals court has ordered Microsoft to strip custom XML support from Word 2007 by January 11, effectively banning the sale of Microsoft Word and Office (which includes the Word software) in their current form.

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Microsoft may be forced to stop selling Word 2007." height="164"] The injunction stems from a patent infringement lawsuit filed by the small Canadian firm i4i in 2007. The suit claims i4i owns the custom XML editing technology that is included in Microsoft Word.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas agreed, slapping Microsoft with a $290 million fine and ordering it to remove custom XML capabilities or stop selling the infringing software.

Microsoft appealed, but the lower court's ruling was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals. And now the software giant has precious little time to re-release Word and Office 2007 before being barred from selling the profitable office software.

In a statement issued yesterday, Microsoft's Director of Public Affairs Kevin Kutz expressed confidence in the company's ability to meet the injunction date.

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 speaking with Stuart J. Johnston at Datamation Microsoft analyst Rob Enderle admits the ruling "shows the increasing hostility of this market," before adding, "For Microsoft, I think it's going to be an increasingly expensive way to do business, with a lot more patent vetting."

Regardless of whether new versions of Office 2007 will appear in time to meet demand, this significant legal decision will only further the cutthroat approach technology companies apply to protect their patents.

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Filed under: Microsoft Corp. • Microsoft Office • online news

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A. Smith, Oregon   December 23rd, 2009 4:08 pm ET

Microsoft has really been getting hit by serious lawsuit after lawsuit to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Perhaps Microsoft missed their annual payments to Republican lawmakers, I seriously doubt any appeals court in Texas would have found against Microsoft in the past due to Republican lawmakers influence.

Oh well, for years many small personal computer programmers have complained about Microsoft thieving their software and routines. Lately, it seems Microsoft has routinely been legally found to have their hands in the cookie jar and is increasingly forced to pay heavy fines for their continued egregious actions.

I can hear the folks at Firefox laughing their butts off, go figure!

Ken Barrett   December 24th, 2009 1:52 am ET

I have purchased Office 2007 over a year ago.
Must I do anything or make any changes since this lawsuit took place? Or am i ok to continue the way things are?
Warmest Regards
Ken Barrett

Wes Finley-Price   December 24th, 2009 9:28 am ET

The injunction only restricts Microsoft's ability to sell new copies of the Word and Office 2007. Software sold before Jan. 11th, 2010 will be unaffected by this decision and should function as usual.

Scotty   December 24th, 2009 11:15 am ET

oops they did it again next free windows 7 for giving me vista microshaft the world

James H   December 24th, 2009 11:19 am ET

Live by the sword, die by the sword. Microsoft has been wielding the patent sword for a while now. Recently, they went after TomTom with their questionable FAT patent. They could have helped do away with patents by submitting a brief in the Bilski case against software patents. But, they want to eat their cake and have it too. So, they continue to support software patents.

I have no sympathy for them. They're getting everything that they deserve. Merry Christmas Microsoft.

Hopefully at some point the Patent Trademark Office will collapse under its own weight. It seems to be reaching it now. It obvious to see how badly the TSA or FCC are doing their job but PTO is an organization that really is screwing it up for Americans without them knowing about it. Only those working in areas can see how bad it is.

Ben   December 24th, 2009 12:44 pm ET

This wont really affect Microsoft at all and in the end on appeals it will rule in favor of microsoft. They did nothing wrong and i4i is another patent troll.

"Scotty December 24th, 2009 11:15 am ET

oops they did it again next free windows 7 for giving me vista microshaft the world"

Vista's only problems were hardware manufacturers that were too stupid to make drivers early enough, and users that couldn't handle turning off UAC. Seeing as if the hardware people had made drivers from the betas (like they did with windows 7) the transition would have been much smoother. On the UAC it was designed so morons wouldn't get viruses while still going about their way as a stupid internet user. If a user can't work around those that is not Microsoft's problem.

People that bash Vista aren't very tech savvy or "in the know" Microsoft proved that with the Mojave project. Windows 7 it the next evolution and the only thing they did wrong with this OS is they still kept a 32-bit version. Hopefully they will remedy this in the next one.

Franko   December 24th, 2009 1:17 pm ET

Justice denied by the slow system, was the theme.
Netscape and other companies were slaughtered,
While NSA was granted trap doors into Windows.

As a kingpin in the military, industrial, information complex,
Helping the Global Empire to dominate all human activity.
The well being of Microsoft is crucial.

Franko   December 24th, 2009 8:28 pm ET

Good background, interviewing the underdog - Watch
BNN speaks to Loudon Owen, chairman, i4i Inc., and Michel Vulpe

Lenic   December 25th, 2009 4:54 am ET

It amazes me that people pay for Microsoft Office when they can easily download OpenOffice for free.

BK   December 25th, 2009 3:19 pm ET

"Vista's only problems were hardware manufacturers that were too stupid to make drivers early enough, and users that couldn't handle turning off UAC."

Actually the problem was that they refused to release code to hardware makers that was required to make drivers functional, so a lot of them had to back hack things linux style just to get their hardware to function. Microsoft fortunately learned from this and opened with 7 a lot earlier, completely avoiding these problems.
As a technical support person myself, I can say with confidence that Vista had many serious mistakes which makes it a nightmare to troubleshoot. Troubleshooting XP or 7 is easy in comparison.

Terry   December 25th, 2009 6:10 pm ET

People! OpenOffice is FREE! For Pete's sake, stop purchasing software if you don't have to.

Camaren   December 25th, 2009 8:56 pm ET

Yet another anti-Microsoft story on CNN

JSDavid, Washington,DC   December 25th, 2009 10:50 pm ET

Agree with you A.Smith, Oregan... MS has been repeatedly found guilty (read GUILTY) of theft. Unfortunately monopolies still dominate the world markets – whether oil or software – there's something wrong when large corporations are allowed to get away with crime. Go figure APPLE is gaining a lead – my next computer is an Mac.

James   December 26th, 2009 12:45 am ET

People don't use OpenOffice even though its free simply because it is free. The world use MS Office so everyone thinks thats what they should use. I honestly would never recommend a client use free Office software, you have to pay to play.

I glad that David beat Goliath.

obsz   December 26th, 2009 4:45 am ET

xbox is what's keeping microsoft going. they should do more with xbox, turn it into a HTPC/ entertainment/ gaming console. you can connect to facebook, twitter, netflix, xbox community, music marketplace and more. they need gates back.

Floyd   December 26th, 2009 11:52 am ET


Netscape wasn't slaughtered. The code is now known as Mozilla, and is in the Firefox (the version most people use) and Seamonkey browsers now, as well as other Mozilla based browsers.

Lenic: I use OpenOffice at home because it's free. However, if I could afford MS Office (which I use at work) I'd buy a copy for home use. MS Office has fewer bugs.

john   December 26th, 2009 3:20 pm ET

Microsoft was built on deception, with bill gates selling an os he didn't own in the beginning. When I was doing software development the stories were legend of developers doing a demo for Microsoft, being rejected and 6 months later, their cloned code showed up in the MS product! Finally they get caught doing it and it costs them. I salute the perseverance of the infringed firm and taking the top off of Microsoft's arrogance.

Uche Enwesi   December 26th, 2009 10:39 pm ET

Very interesting. We don't have to worry at this issue.


Douglas   December 27th, 2009 12:51 pm ET

If only there can be something done about getting rid of that crazy ribbon that you will find on the top of the applications.

Eric   December 27th, 2009 2:09 pm ET

Nice to know that Ben is such a Vole supporter. He obviously works for Microsoft since if he didn't and had a brain he wouldn't quote Mojave to support his positions since that was a commercial for Microsoft. A commercial proves nothing. As for saying people who bashed Vista weren't tech savy, since when are people required to be tech savy to use an operating system they pay so much of their hard earned money to Microsoft to have? Vista had much more problems than he mentions like the fact that the hardware requirements were significantly greater than initially claimed thanks to Microsoft's bloated code. Take a look at Windows 7. Microsoft cut a lot of bloated code, THAT'S why it's smaller and works better than Vista.

Humanity   December 28th, 2009 10:43 am ET

It is time to abandon the American greed entrenched in Patents. It is time for the World to empower the charitable idea of Open Source in all things, for the benefit of Humanity. A simple law that abolishes Patents as the evil expression of greed would suffice. The World would adjust to Open Source and Humanity would benefit. Viva Google. Viva Mozilla. Viva generic medicine. Viva Robin Hood.

ed   December 28th, 2009 1:31 pm ET

You can't abandon greed... not unless you genetically modify or brainwash yourself.

Skout   December 28th, 2009 3:20 pm ET

Wow. There's some really bad facts and ideas in these posts.

While I can understand people disliking MS [or any monopoly], i4i is nothing more than a company sitting on patents and doing NOTHING AT ALL PRODUCTIVE, just suing anyone who dares use something that they can construe as being "theirs".

Eventually, these patent trolls are going to bring down the entire system, but hopefully, we can find a way to put it to and end before that with some major reform. Unlikely, but hopefully.

In the meantime, no, this doesn't affect consumers, except perhaps that it'll be harder to manipulate custom xml code in Word.

Bruno   December 28th, 2009 4:20 pm ET

You can abandon greed but it would require the world dynamics to function differently. First governments would need to abolish money and give free food & shelder to everyone then people would work for enjoyment and prestige.

Of course we're still far from that future but you can already see a huge growth in the welness industry where people are more and more looking to find a better way of life that does not involve consumism. 🙂

A. Smith, Oregon   December 28th, 2009 7:06 pm ET

Federal Agency's hacking visitors personal computers visiting the White House .gov website?

Within 60 seconds of my entering the WhiteHouse .gov website, hackers attempted to gain full access to this computers keyboard and access security files. (This PC uses a Microsoft Operating System)

The hackers went right thru my full stealth firewall which tells me it was a US Federal Agency doing the hack, as they routinely strong arm major firewall and encryption software providers for backdoor access.

The hackers were stopped by my Mozilla free addon Keyscrambler which encrypts keyboard keys at the computer processors Kernal level. Keyscrambler has open source programming and US Federal Agency's aren't able to strong arm the thousands of programmers involved in open source projects to give them backdoor access.

I've been on the White House email list since President Obama was elected, however I find what appears to be Federal Agency's hacking visitors computers that enter the WhiteHouse .gov website troubling to say the least.

There is nothing on this computer that could be even remotely conceived as illegal or questionable. I cherish American freedoms and privacy's even if that is long gone in America after 911.

What are your thoughts on this?

IP   December 28th, 2009 8:39 pm ET

Patents protect creators. Open source is great for those that espose it, but it is not for everyone. Some people want to make a living creating. Others don't. Patents don't hurt those that don't care about making a living off their creations.

TD   December 28th, 2009 10:36 pm ET

@Ken, Patent infringement is patent infringement regardless of whether you bought the software from Microsoft. (Unless their license shields you from that liability - something I'm pretty sure it does not do.) It is simply **easier** for i4i to sue Microsoft (who has deeper pockets obviously) then to attempt millions of suits against individual infringers. So legally you would not be able to use the infringing software but practically I would worry more about getting struck by lightening after kissing a beautiful women with a raging (but secret) H1N1 infection who just emptied your bank account and 401k. (If that already happened - sorry buddy!)

Peter   December 28th, 2009 11:43 pm ET

open office sucks, don't bother.

Franko   December 29th, 2009 5:20 am ET

After continuous monopolistic abuse;
"Judge: Microsoft must be broken in two – CNET News 7 Jun 2000"

Newer happened. Why ?
"NSA could be looking through your Windows" ?

namugera robert k   December 29th, 2009 9:48 am ET

well i think microsoft has already sold tones of copies and it wont bring a big change to i4i because in uganda we already use the product

Franko   December 29th, 2009 11:02 am ET

"Microsoft Office could hit $20 billion in sales by 2010"
The XML i4i Patent was applied for in 1994 - issued in 1998
So, the 290 million spread over 12 years is not a large expense.

At stake is the possibility of other companies winning similar lawsuits
MonopolySoft fading into the corporate sunset ?

David   January 9th, 2010 1:43 pm ET

Why is it with all of their resources, talent, education, and everything else money can buy, they can't do anything without stealing and copying someone else?

It is a joke that Ballmer was asked his opinion on how he sees the future of digital communication... How can he answer that without quoting someone else, or identifying someone else's product? Asking Ballmer to answer that question is like asking Sarah Palin what she thinks of the future of government. Hasn't Microsoft become irrelevant?

Imagine, life without Microsoft. I have.

Phil   January 9th, 2010 1:54 pm ET

Ive used Open Office freeware. I dont think it "Sucks" at all. It may lack a few of the advanced features in MS Office Suite but for most home users it does more than enough. MS Office is a very powerful software suite. Most users never scratch the surface of its capabilities.

As for patents, MS has snatched up incredible amounts of ideas and sometimes simply stole from smaller software vendors...even back in the days of DOS. Remember Stack Electronics? ...They created a method of doubling disk space back when hard drives cost a fortune. Microsoft stole it, called it DoubleSpace and got their butts sued off. They had to release (If my memory serves) Dos 6 which was actually a downgrade from 5.5 and remove DoubleSpace.

They havent stopped since. No pitty for MS here.

Mac & PC   January 9th, 2010 2:06 pm ET

I have a MACbook that runs windows 7 professional. I never use OSX. I love windows and microsoft products.

David Gillis   January 9th, 2010 9:02 pm ET

Bruno, you fool, where do you think 'government' would get its food? People would all work to meet their quota of food production to the government. And each layer of the bureaucracy would take their shareto squander and sell to enrich themselves. Since the bureaucrats would have the best, everyone would work not for fun, but to be a bureaucrat and have a better house and more food. History is replete with such foolishness and its predictable outcomes.

Robert   January 12th, 2010 10:53 am ET

Ben said: "Vista's only problems were hardware manufacturers that were too stupid to make drivers early enough, and users that couldn't handle turning off UAC."

That is absolutely correct. Windows 7 is fine and all, but it's little more than Vista with a new dress and some liposuction. Early Vista driver support was dismal. How is that Microsoft's fault? Vista was far improved after a couple of years, but the damage was already done. Vista was dying and MS had to cut it's throat and release a replacement - which any savvy user knows is still Vista.

The entire UAC is utterly useless. Windows 7 makes it slightly less annoying but still it's useless. My clients, all of whom are normal users (read: technically illiterate) have no idea how to evaluate the weight of that message so whenever that box pops up, everyone clicks "Continue". Me, I just turned it off.

Bob G   January 12th, 2010 1:04 pm ET

It surprises me how many people support Microsoft as they run smaller companies out of business and steal patents. Why do people think it is ok to break the law and ruin smaller companies? I have been watching them since the early 90's do this. It's nice to see the government actually making them pay for breaking the law. Why is it that people feel Microsoft should be above the law?? I don't understand this logic or lack of?

Spooly-T   January 13th, 2010 11:08 am ET

Office 2007 wasn't very easy to use anyways... I refuse to use it...

Johnnie99   January 14th, 2010 9:39 am ET

How the mighty are fallen ... plagiarists never retain their reputation.

techie retards   January 14th, 2010 2:05 pm ET

Are you all STUPID!

Where were you all when MS was changing the world by offering a OS that can be deployed on every PC around the world to allow the internet to be as accessable as it is.

Microsoft has done more for the industry than any other company including the piece of crap we call IBM.

Ssetumba   January 15th, 2010 3:05 am ET

Microsoft are good software engineers that happen to know how to do business. Obviously they have of recent learnt a lot especially in terms of the need to occasionally open up your code to support inter-operability. Its useless to spend thounsands of work hours coding and then go on to sell your software free of charge. Unless you are insane, I believe ingenuity should reward someone with a piece of the pie, otherwise dumb-asses like politicians shall always eat the pie alone. That said, there is no doubt that Microsoft has in the past and present brought us a lot of pleasure with some of their software. As a developer however, I have of recent switched to PHP because of the very steep learning curve associated with .NET.

Sauron   January 15th, 2010 1:08 pm ET

Just like when they copied the code for stacker utilities in dos 6. Stacker sued, won and Mickeysoft bought them. I cant think of one piece of software Microsoft has ever made on their own. They either overdevloped or bought out others including dos, windows, nt etc. Thanks to Apple, Microsoft has something to copy.

olyg   January 15th, 2010 5:29 pm ET

Follow the law – or pay the penalty. SOmething banks and financial firms don't have to do under the democrats

jrm353   January 15th, 2010 8:09 pm ET

GO APPLE!!!!!!!

Michael   January 17th, 2010 3:49 pm ET

Great... I am required to purchase Office 2007 for my college course this semester, and I need the course to graduate this spring... So now what? Quick fix so that sales can resume soon?

DarthGates   January 18th, 2010 2:52 am ET

A. Smith from Oregan...... Bill Gates is a Democrat and one of Obama's biggest supporters.

Just so you know for next time.

Navi   January 19th, 2010 6:32 pm ET

"People that bash Vista aren't very tech savvy or "in the know" Microsoft proved that with the Mojave project. Windows 7 it the next evolution and the only thing they did wrong with this OS is they still kept a 32-bit version. Hopefully they will remedy this in the next one."

Ben, Seeing how I'm in the IT industry, AND bashing Vista to no end should go to show how untrue this statement really is. Vista biggest problem was that they were incredibly resource heavy. The Mojave project was incredibly skewed. Of course it didn't lag there system, they were running Ultimate Edition on top-notch hardware. Plus, if Microsoft was paying for it, you tend to get some good results in there favor. I will, however, give credit to MS for Windows 7 though.

Microsoft has always been very bad about stealing product codes. Just ask anyone in the Open Source community. I find the press release quite interesting. I always thought that Office 2007 was based on the XML architecture, (hence the *.docx) If thats the case, they got a lot of changing to do. But while Microsoft is in there, do you think they can give us back our menus?

Daniel Hann   January 21st, 2010 3:49 am ET

Steal everything; if you do not, then Microsoft will!!!

Biiiiillllllyyyyyyy   January 21st, 2010 9:10 am ET

Microsoft was created by God, and like Zues is to the sun, Microsoft is to personal computers everywhere. All face West, and bow to your new God.

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