On Monday, Microsoft said that it had started to send e-mails to its corporate customers around the globe, notifying them that they may need to begin using a different version of Office due to a recent court ruling, CNET News.com reports.
Microsoft has been forced to issue new versions of Office 2003 and Office XP, changing the way Microsoft Access’ database works with Excel spreadsheets.
Last year, a jury in an Orange County, Calif. court found in favor of a patent claim filed against Microsoft by Guatemalan inventor Carlos Armando Amado, and the company was ordered to pay $8.9 million in damages to Amado for infringement on his 1994 patent. The damages cover sales of Office between March 1997 and July 2003.
“It was recently decided in a court of law that certain portions of code found in Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003, Microsoft Office Access 2003, Microsoft Office XP Professional and Microsoft Access 2002 infringe a third-party patent,” Microsoft said. “As a result, Microsoft must make available a revised version of these products with the allegedly infringing code replaced.”
Any new installations of Office 2003 will require Service Pack 2. Office XP will need a special patch in order to function.
“We understand that this will create an inconvenience for a small percentage of our customers and are committed to working with them through the process and easing the inconvenience as best as possible,” said Sunny Jensen Charlebois, a Microsoft senior product manager.