Patent Woes Force MS Office/Access Patch

    February 8, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Microsoft is being required to issue patches for new installations of Office Professional Edition 2003, Office XP Professional, and Access 2002 and 2003 after losing a 2005 patent infringement case. This means that companies in the process of new installations of the affected products must update them.

Sunny Jensen Charlebois, a senior product manager at Microsoft released a statement saying the ruling only affected new installations and future installations, but does not apply to existing installations. Also, according to Microsoft’s indemnification policy, customers are protected from liability on existing installations provided that the patch is used for future installs.

Microsoft is in the process of emailing customers with instructions on how to update their systems. provides the text of one such European email:

Action required:
As a result of the above ruling, you are required to:
Install Microsoft Office 2003 Service Pack 2 (Office 2003 SP2) for all your future deployments of Office Professional Edition 2003 and Office Access 2003, Install the Microsoft Office XP Service Pack 3 Patch (Office XP SP3 Patch) for all your future deployments of Office XP Professional and Access 2002

Action requested:
To keep your current systems in alignment with your future deployments of these products, Microsoft is requesting that you also update all your current Office Professional Edition 2003 and Office Access 2003 installations with Office 2003 SP2, and Office XP Professional and Access 2002 installations with the Office XP SP3 Patch.

According to CNet, Garter analyst Michael Silver said that business using Office 2003 without Service Pack 2 already may have some trouble.

“Installing the patches on new implementations without testing may be a quick alternative that minimizes legal risk, but risks breaking applications,” he said.

“Microsoft should produce a single patch for Office 2003 SP1. SP1 is still supported and installing it, and a patch would be much easier for users than having to test and install a whole service pack, which is what they need to do to comply today.”

The patent ruling against Microsoft happened in June 2005. Stanford alumni Carlos Amado was awarded a patent in 1994 on a technology linking Excel spreadsheets to Office and Access applications. Amado was awarded $8.9 million for the infringement.