Microsoft got some relief from the U.S. Court of Appeals today after being granted a temporary stay on an injunction that would have required it to halt Word sales by mid-October. This will give the company time to formally appeal its case against Canadian firm i4i at a hearing on September 23, where it will defend the use of custom XML functions in Microsoft Word 2003 and 2007.
The original verdict, handed down by a U.S. district court judge in Texas last month, ordered Redmond to pay nearly $300 million in accumulated fines and pull from store shelves within 60 days all copies of Microsoft Word. Although Microsoft has wrestled with patent-infringement cases in the past, this case has become notable for the costly effects of the verdict if upheld.
To put things into perspective, Microsoft Office, which includes Word, accounted for more than $3 billion in worldwide sales for the company in its most recent fiscal year. If the appeals court ultimately upholds the verdict, Microsoft could potentially develop a workaround that avoids using the disputed technology, strip the capability from the products or reach a settlement with i4i.