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Microsoft: 'Massive disruptions' if Word injunction not lifted

Asks Court of Appeals to stay injunction, warns Office could be off market for months

August 18, 2009 09:48 PM ET

Computerworld - Microsoft late Tuesday warned of "massive disruptions" to sales of Office, as well as to partners such as Best Buy, Dell and Hewlett-Packard, if the injunction that prevents it from selling Word 2003 and Word 2007 in the U.S. after Oct. 10 is not set aside.

In an emergency motion filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals, Microsoft asked that the injunction imposed last week by U.S. District Court Judge Leonard Davis be stayed, or temporarily put on hold, while its appeal is heard.

Microsoft's move was expected, as it had previously said it would appeal the verdict and the injunction that resulted from a patent infringement case it lost last May.

"Microsoft and its distributors (which include retailers such as Best Buy and OEMs such as HP and Dell) face the imminent possibility of a massive disruption in their sales," Microsoft argued in the motion. "If left undisturbed, the district court's injunction will inflict irreparable harm on Microsoft by potentially keeping the centerpiece of its product line out of the market for months," the firm's lawyers added. "The injunction would block not only the distribution of Word, but also of the entire Office suite, which contains Word and other popular programs."

The patent infringement case brought by Toronto-based i4i in 2007 resulted in a $290 million judgment against Microsoft and an injunction that bars it from selling Word 2003 and Word 2007 after Oct. 10 unless they're altered.

Microsoft also complained to the Court of Appeals that while it has taken steps toward the latter solution, that, too, puts an unfair burden on the company. "Already, Microsoft is expending enormous human and financial capital to make its best effort to comply with the district court's 60-day deadline," stated Microsoft in the motion.

"Even if Microsoft ultimately succeeds on appeal, it will never be able to recoup the funds expended in redesigning and redistributing Word, the sales lost during the period when Word and Office are barred from the market, and the diminished goodwill from Microsoft's many retail and industrial customers," the company said.

Elsewhere, Microsoft painted a bleak picture for users. "Even if the injunction will not affect Microsoft's existing Office customers, consumers and businesses who require new copies of Office and Word would be stranded without an alternative set of software." Microsoft's attorneys also claimed that the situation would be a "major public disruption," and would "have an effect on the public due to the public's undisputed and enormous reliance on those products."

During the trial, Microsoft said it would take five months for it to craft new versions of Word that omitted the offending feature. i4i countered, saying that it could be done much faster than that with a software patch.

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