It's getting closer and closer to check-writing time for Steve Ballmer, as the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit has just upheld a decision that would see Microsoft Word and Office banned from sale starting January 11. If you'll recall, Microsoft lost a patent infringement suit against XML specialists i4i back in May when it was found that Word's handling of .xml, .docx, and .docm filed infringed upon i4i's patented XML handling algorithms, but the injunction against further Word sales was put on hold pending the results of this appeal. Now that Microsoft has lost once again, we'd expect either an appeal to the Supreme Court and request for the injunction to be stayed, or for a settlement between these two that would end this whole mess right now. We'll see what happens -- stay tuned.

P.S.- Just to be clear on this, i4i isn't a patent troll -- it's a a 30 person database design company that shipped one of the first XML plugins for Office and was actually responsible for revamping the entire USPTO database around XML to make it compatible with Word back in 2000. What's more, the patents involved here don't cover XML itself, but rather the specific algorithms used to read and write custom XML -- so OpenOffice user can breathe easy, as i4i has said the suite doesn't infringe its patent. Engadget: Helping you flame with accuracy.Microsoft loses patent appeal; Word and Office to be barred from sale starting January 11 originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 22 Dec 2009 13:35:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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