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Microsoft must pay $290M and alter Word

Microsoft Corp., the world's biggest software maker, is preparing to alter its popular Word software after it lost its appeal of a $290-million patent-infringement verdict won by a Canadian firm.

But people looking to buy Word or Microsoft's Office package in the United States won't have to go without the software. Microsoft said Tuesday that it expects that new versions of the product, with the computer code in question removed, will be ready for sale when the injunction begins next month.

Word is part of Microsoft's Office software, used by more than 500 million people.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington upheld the verdict won by closely held i4i Lp of Toronto. The dispute is over an invention related to customizing extensible markup language, or XML, a way of encoding data to exchange information among programs. Microsoft has called it an "obscure functionality."

The plaintiffs disagreed. The decision is "an important step in protecting the property rights of small inventors," Michael Vulpe, i4i's co-founder, said in an e-mail.

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