To meet the requirements of a court ruling, Microsoft on Monday made its Office productivity suite unavailable to customers from its online store, MSDN and TechNet services, and the Microsoft Download Center (which provided evaluation versions of the software). As you might recall, Microsoft was found to have infringed on an i4i patent in its Word software, which is part of Office. As part of the ruling against it, the software giant was issued an injunction halting sales of the infringing software on January 11.
Microsoft said at the time of the injunction that it would be able to replace existing copies of Word and Office in the marketplace before the January 11 injunction date. Clearly, that hasn't yet happened.
"We've taken steps to comply with the court's ruling, and we're introducing the revised software into the US market," a Microsoft statement reads. "This process will be imperceptible to the vast majority of customers, who will find both trial and purchase options readily available." According to the software giant, the removal is temporary and the software will return to its sites soon.
What Microsoft has done so far is issue software updates for customers already running Word 2003 and 2007. These updates remove the infringing code from the products, taking with them a small, largely unused bit of functionality. Microsoft noted that it is also removing the offending code from its Mac versions of Office 2004 and 2008, even though that software wasn't part of the injunction.
Microsoft has filed another appeal in the i4i case, asking an appellate court to grant a rehearing of the case. "The petition details significant conflicts we believe the December 22 decision creates with established precedents governing trial procedure and the determination of damages, and we are concerned that the decision weakens judges' authority to apply appropriate safeguards in future patent trials," Microsoft says.
Should Microsoft lose this appeal, it can mount a final legal challenge with the US Supreme Court.