With court injunction on sale of its Word software coming into force Monday, Microsoft Friday filed a petition with the US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals seeking review of the ruling against it for stealing a patent held by a small Toronto software company.

In its ruling Dec 22, the US Court of Appeals had upheld a lower court order banning Microsoft from selling its Word processing software 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 said Microsoft stole this technology when it created Word 2003 and Word 2007 software.

Word is the mainstay of Microsoft's business. Its sales accounted for 90 percent of the $18.9-billion earned by the software giant's Microsoft Business division in 2008.

In its review petition filed Friday, Microsoft seeks review of the ruling as well as fines by all 11 judges.

“The petition details significant conflicts we believe the Dec. 22 decision creates with established precedents governing trial procedure and the determination of damages,'' Kevin Kutz, Microsoft's director of public affairs, told a blog in Seattle.

“And we are concerned that the decision weakens judges' authority to apply appropriate safeguards in future patent trials,'' he said.

Microsoft says Word 2007 and Office 2007 to be sold after Monday will not infringe the patent. A Word 2007 software patch reportedly removes any custom XML markup when a document is opened, according to the Seattle blog.

Reacting to the Microsoft petition, Loudon Owen, i4i chairman, said in Toronto, “This next step of seeking a rehearing was anticipated. We continue to be confident that we will prevail.

“In the meantime, the injunction against Microsoft goes into effect in three days, on Monday Jan 11. We look forward to continuing to build i4i's business now that Microsoft is obligated to comply with the terms of the injunction. i4i stands ready to work with the wide range of customers that require this custom xml functionality.''

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