A panel of federal judges has granted Microsoft's request for a fast-track appeal of the injunction that prohibits the company from selling its popular Word software after October 10, and was due to make its case to to the three judges by the end of business yesterday.
The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit last week approved Microsoft's demand for an expedited hearing for its appeal. At the same time, the court denied Microsoft's motion for an "administrative stay" that would have nullified the injunction.
The injunction, which bars Microsoft from selling Word 2003 and Word 2007 in their current forms after October 10, was mandated by US District Court Judge Leonard Davis on August 11 after the company was found guilty by a Texas jury of infringing a patent held by Canadian software developer i4i. Davis also awarded i4i more than $290 million in damages and interest.
On August 18, Microsoft filed a motion to stay the injunction while it takes the case to appeal. In that motion, Microsoft warned of "massive disruptions" to its sales, as well as those of important OEM (original equipment manufacturers) partners such as Dell and HP, if the injunction was not put on hold.
Although a patent attorney with 17 years experience said Microsoft would be able to quickly create a workaround to disable the offending Word's 'custom' XML feature, the company claimed it would be unable to modify Word 2003 and Word 2007 by the October 10 deadline.
According to the Court of Appeals calendar for the case, Microsoft must file a brief today outlining its arguments for the stay. i4i's response brief is due two weeks later, on Sept. 8, while Microsoft's reply to that must reach the court by noon on September 14.
An oral hearing is scheduled for September 23, less than three weeks before the injunction is to take effect. The Court of Appeals would render its verdict on Microsoft's motion at some point after that.
Earlier, the judge said in a summary opinion of the case that evidence presented during the May trial showed Microsoft intended to make i4i's software "obsolete" by adding the custom XML feature to Word.
Davis also took shots at Microsoft for trying to do business as usual in the face of the verdict and his injunction. "Even after several years of litigation and a jury verdict of infringement, Microsoft requests the ability to continue selling the accused products and release an upcoming product with the same infringing functionality," Davis said two weeks ago.
i4i did not respond to a request for comment on the expedited schedule.