Microsoft loses again in Word patent suit

Microsoft has lost its appeal against i4i, the Canadian company that sued the software giant for wilfully infringing one of its patents.

Back in August, The US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas sided with i4i, which alleged that Microsoft's Office suite infringed a patent relating to the creation of custom XML documents.

The software giant was ordered to stop selling Microsoft Word - the cornerstone of its Office suite - and pay more than $240 million in damages. It promptly appealed, claiming the verdict would cause the company "irreparable harm".

Why didn't Microsoft's own patent portfolio provide the protection it was supposed to

However, the US Federal Court of Appeals sided with i4i, claiming there was "no evidence Microsoft ever made a good faith effort to avoid infringement".

We've asked Microsoft to comment on the story and are awaiting a reply. Unsurprisingly, i4i was far more forthcoming. "i4i is especially pleased with the court's continued decision to uphold the injunction, an important step in protecting the property rights of inventors," said Michel Vulpe, founder of i4i and co-inventor.

Analysts have expressed surprise that Microsoft wasn't able to ward off i4i. "Why didn't Microsoft's own patent portfolio provide the protection it was supposed to?" asked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

"I4i isn't a patent troll and yet Microsoft didn't seem able to use its own patents to prevent i4i from moving forward. It may be because i4i is so limited and focused on what it does, but this is somewhat unusual," he concluded.

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