Microsoft has asked the US Court of Appeals for a rehearing in its long-running patent dispute with i4i systems over its popular Word software, after losing the original appeal last month.In a December ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a previous decision made by a district court in Texas ruling in favour of i4i, which supplies Word XML authoring software.It stated that Microsoft had to stop selling the patent-infringing copies of Word 2007 and Office 2007 software in the US after 11 January 2010. However, even though Microsoft has since released a workaround it appears the fight for Redmond is far from over.In a brief statement, Microsoft’s director of public affairs, Kevin Kutz, argued that the original appeal court decision could set a dangerous precedent for future rulings.“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,” he explained.Loudon Owen, i4i chairman, responded with his own statement, saying that Microsoft’s decision to re-appeal was expected. “We look forward to continuing to build i4i's business now that Microsoft is obligated to comply with the terms of the injunction,” he added.“I4i stands ready to work with the wide range of customers that require this custom XML functionality."A favourable decision for Microsoft in the re-appeal could also mean Redmond avoiding the US$300 million in damages it currently owes.
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