A tiny Canadian company i4i Inc. which had won a big legal battle and $290 million in fines against Microsoft over violations of its patent in Word applications, won yet another round Thursday when US federal appeals court turned down Microsoft's plea for hearing of the case by a full bench.

In its ruling Dec 22, the US court of appeals had upheld a lower court order banning Microsoft from selling its Word processing software from Jan 11 because of patent infringement and imposing $290 million in fines.

Toronto-based i4i Inc. had taken Microsoft to court for stealing its patent filed in 1998. The patent pertains to the use of technology that can open documents using the XML computer programming language. The Canadian software company had said Microsoft stole this technology when it created Word 2003 and Word 2007 software.

Microsoft had filed a review petition in the US federal court of appeals against the ruling as well as fines.

Complying with the ruling, the software giant had stopped selling the infringing Word 2007 and Office 2007 from January 11. Instead it had introduced a Word 2007 software patch removing infringing custom XML markup when a document is opened.

Reacting to Thursday's ruling, Kevin Kutz, Microsoft's director of public affairs, was quoted as saying that the company was “disappointed'' by the verdict and considering options.

In Toronto, i4i chairman Loudon Owen, said in a statement, “This has been a long and arduous process, but this decision is a powerful reinforcement of the message that smaller enterprises and inventors who own intellectual property can and will be protected.''

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