Microsoft has begun e-mailing its corporate customers worldwide, letting them know that they may need to start using a different version of Office as a result of a recent legal setback.
The software maker said Monday that it has been forced to issue new versions of Office 2003 and Office XP, which change the way Microsoft's Access database interacts with its Excel spreadsheet.
The move follows a verdict last year by a jury in Orange County, Calif., which found in favor of a patent claim by Guatemalan inventor Carlos Armando Amado. Microsoft was ordered to pay $8.9 million in damages for infringing Amado's 1994 patent. That award covered 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 in an e-mail to customers. "As a result, Microsoft must make available a revised version of these products with the allegedly infringing code replaced."