Microsoft must be sucking an Actiq* lollipop right now to sequester the pain from the legal beating they took yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The Eastern District of Texas held that Microsoft unlawfully and willfully infringed U.S. Patent 5,787,449, which relates to the manipulation of document architecture and content, particularly data representation and transformations. Sounds complicated, but in this case it really boils down to XML files.

Damages and interest awarded against Microsoft total over $277,241,000. Maybe more importantly is that the Court permanently enjoined Microsoft from selling Word 2003, Word 2007 and any future Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX, or .DOCM files – basically XML files. Ironically, I am writing this news article using Microsoft Word 2007. Fortunately, the injunction does not go into effect for 60 days, so I am safe. Phew!

Microsoft is also permanently enjoined from using, instructing or encouraging anyone to use, providing support or assistance to anyone or doing any testing, demonstrating, or marketing of any of the Microsoft Word products describing the ability to open XML files. Talk about tough love.

Of course, there are a couple of exceptions to the Order. For example, the injunction does not apply to Word products opening of XML in plain text. The injunction also does not apply to Word products that upon opening an XML file also apply a custom transform that removes all custom XML elements. Sound paradoxical?

Fortunately, and maybe most importantly, the injunction also does not apply to Microsoft providing support and assistance to anyone wanting to open XML files if their Word product was licensed or sold before the date of the injunction.
*Actiq is a raspberry-flavored lollipop loaded with narcotic pain-killer for treatment of cancer patients.

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