A judge in the Eastern District of Texas has ruled that Microsoft must stop selling its Word product in the United States within 60 days, due to patent infringement.

Judge Leonard Davis has issued an injunction that "prohibits Microsoft from selling or importing to the United States any Microsoft Word products that have the capability of opening .XML, .DOCX or DOCM files (XML files) containing custom XML". The ability to do that is pretty much central to how Word works.

The district in which the lawsuit was filed by the plaintiff, Toronto-based i4i, is known for its lenience towards patent litigation. The judge also ordered Microsoft to pay more than $290 million in damages.

However, analysts believe that the ruling won't affect the company significantly. There's still room for an appeal, and even then Microsoft could build a workaround that incorporates the letter, if not the spirit, of the ruling. "It's going to take a long time for this kind of thing to get sorted out", analyst Michael Cherry told Computer World.

Microsoft's response: "We are disappointed by the court's ruling. We believe the evidence clearly demonstrated that we do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid. We will appeal the verdict".