A Texas Judge found that Microsoft's Word application violates an XML related patent held by i4i, a Toronto-based content solutions and technologies provider. Judge Leonard Davis, of U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas, ordered Microsoft to pay $240 million in damages to i4i, plus court costs and interest, and decided Microsoft will have to stop selling Word 2003 and Word 2007 in its current form in 60 days.
Microsoft announced it plans to appeal, as it believes i4i's patent is invalid. It is unknown how this suit may affect other office suits like OpenOffice. More info at Information Week.
Specifically, Davis said Microsoft can't sell versions of Word that can open documents saved in the .XML, .DOCX, or .DOCM formats that contain custom XML. Those formats were at the heart of the patent dispute. .DOCX is the default format for the most current version of Word, which is included in Microsoft Office 2007. Custom XML is used by businesses to link their corporate data to Word documents.
Davis said the injunction does not apply to versions of Word that open an XML file as plain text or which apply a transform that removes all custom XML elements—possibly paving the way for Microsoft to issue a patch that rectifies the problem.
An examination of the patent can be found at ZD Net.