(CN) – A federal judge in Texas ordered Microsoft to pay $290 million in fines and banned it from selling Word in the United States, because the word-processing software violated a patent held by a small company called i4i.
The Toronto-based i4i, which has about 30 employees, said Microsoft violated a patent tied to Extensible Markup Language or XML, a special language that allows computers to interpret and display text. The Canadian company filed a patent for a “customized XML” tool in 1998.
Because Word 2003 and Word 2007 have the ability to process XML documents with custom XML elements, i4i accused Microsoft of patent infringement. Microsoft insisted the patent wasn’t valid.
In May, a jury ruled against Microsoft and awarded i4i $200 million in damages.
Microsoft moved for judgment despite the verdict, but U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis sided with i4i, saying Microsoft knowingly infringed on the smaller company’s patent.
He cited an email sent by a member of Microsoft’s XML for Word development team, which notes, “We saw [i4i’s products] some time ago and met its creators. Word 11 will make it obsolete. It looks great for XP though.”
“The email confirms Microsoft’s awareness of [i4i’s] patent, its relationship to i4i’s products, as well as Microsoft’s intention to implement similar capabilities in Word,” Davis concluded.
The judge added that the jury award, though large, “it is a small fraction of the profit that Microsoft has gained in sales of its Word products alone.”
Hundreds of millions of people worldwide use Word as part of the Microsoft Office software suite, which raked in $3 billion in the last fiscal year.
Davis ordered Microsoft to stop selling or using Word programs that can open XML files containing custom XML, and awarded i4i about $290 million in damages in a final judgment.