Software patent infringed: Microsoft barred from selling Word

Microsoft on Tuesday got a taste of its own medicine when a judge in
Texas ruled [pdf] that it is infringing an XML-related patent held by
Canadian XML specialist i4i.

The judge issued an injunction that becomes effective within 60 days,
barring Microsoft from selling the 2003 and 2007 versions of Word in
the United States. It also has to pay US$ 290 million in damages.

Microsoft, unsurprisingly, says it will appeal.

This incident goes to show that not even the biggest companies with
the largest armies of lawyers can consider themselves safe from the
damage that software patents do. Or as Derek Keats is putting it:

“It also highlights the bizarre legal world that we live in. Future
generations will look back on us in incredulity, perhaps in a manner
not unlike the way we look back on the bizarre world of the

Smaller companies, such as the SMEs that form the backbone of Europe’s
economy, wouldn’t stand a chance if software patents became
enforceable in Europe, not to mention individual software
developers. That goes for proprietary and Free Software alike.