This summer, a district court in the Eastern District of Texas issued a permanent injunction against Microsoft ordering it to stop selling versions of Word that include an XML editor. Needless to say, this created a firestorm by potentially disrupting Microsoft’s flagship product. The Federal Circuit stayed the injunction while it heard the appeal in the case.
The Federal Circuit has now affirmed the jury’s finding that Microsoft willfully infringed U.S. Patent No. 5,787,449, that the patent is not invalid, a damage award of $240 million, and the permanent injunction. i4i Partnership v. Microsoft Corp.
The only issue that was not affirmed by the Federal Circuit in its entirety was the permanent injunction. The Federal Circuit altered the effective date from 60 days after the district court’s judgment to 5 months after the judgment. Thus, the injunction takes effect January 11, 2010. The court characterized the injunction as narraw because it does not affect copies of Word sold or licensed prior to the effective date of the injunction, nor is Microsoft prohibited from providing support for copies sold prior to that date. Microsoft is not required to provide a fix to copies of Word sold or licensed prior to the effective date. Microsoft is simply barred from selling, offering for sale, importing, or using copies of Word containing the infringing XML editor after the effective date.
Microsoft may request a further stay of the injunction while it petitions the court to rehear the case en banc or should it decide to petition the Supreme Court to review the case. The likelihood of such a stay being granted seems fairly small now that the infringement has been affirmed by a panel of the Federal Circuit.