Microsoft has been ordered to stop selling versions of pre-Vista Windows after losing a patent battle with a Beijing software firm.
The Beijing People's Court has ruled that Microsoft used Chinese-language fonts owned by Zhongyi Electronics in multiple versions of Windows without permission, the Register said.
Zhongyi had claimed that in a 1995 agreement, Microsoft had licensed the rights to use the fonts for Windows 95, but had then incorporated them into eight other operating systems - from Windows 98 to Windows XP - without authorization.
Much of the legal argument in the two-and-a-half-year court case was over the interpretation of the word “or” in the phrase “or any other Microsoft product”, according to Sina.
Microsoft had argued that the contract had implicitly covered later versions of Windows on the grounds that as its operating system evolved it was required to provide continued support for the fonts and other software.
The court rejected an additional claim that Microsoft was behind on license payments for the use of Zhongyi's Chinese text input software, Zhengma.
The ruling means Microsoft must stop selling Chinese language editions of the second edition of Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003.
Microsoft has announced it plans to appeal the ruling. A Zhongyi representative told the Wall Street Journal that the company was debating whether to lodge an appeal of its own.