Microsoft can keep selling Microsoft Word - at least until its appeal of a patent infringement verdict is heard.
In a good call, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals stayed a Texas federal court's injunction -- which would have been effective as of Oct. 10 -- against sales of Word 2003, the Seattle PI reports.
A jury found Microsoft violated Toronto-based i4i's custom XML patents and awarded $200 million in damages. Judge Leonard Davis slapped Microsoft with another $40 million in sanctions for attorney misbehavior. With the stay issued, Microsoft can keep selling Word at least until the appeals court rules on their appeal.
i4i's response: "To paraphrase the great heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, 'They can run, but they can't hide.' Microsoft's time will eventually run out," i4i Chairman Loudon Owen said in a statement.
Defendant-Appellant Microsoft claims it may have to stop distributing Word and Office in the U.S. market until it can redesign both products. Microsoft's scare tactics about the consequences of the injunction cannot shield it from the imminent review of the case by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeal (sic) on the September 23 appeal.
That seems like the right call to me. The economic damages from missing a single day of sales of a product like Word are huge, and the Texas district where i4i won the award is a hotbed of patent prosecution against deep pockets technology companies. I guess we're not going to get patent reform in this lifetime, but the sales injunction is far more detrimental than the $200 million verdict, as absurd as that seems for something like "custom XML."