They might also be forced to stop selling their most successful product so far, the Office suite, in the South Asian country.

A Korean technology transfer company says Microsoft is using inventions already patented in the past. The Supreme Court in a ruling last week rejected a request from Microsoft to nullify patents obtained by Hankuk Aviation University professor Lee Keung-Hae in 1997.

P&IB is suing Microsoft for damages of 70bn South Korean won ($70 million). The patent in question enables automatic translation between English and Korean within Microsoft Office applications. Such translation is crucial for Microsoft to retain market share in fast-expanding markets such as South Korea.

"The decision on Friday will strengthen our position in a fight to win the pending damages suit," the head of P&IB, Kim Kil-Hae, told AFP. The suit demands that Microsoft stop selling Office software which infringes on the patent.

“Microsoft adapted our technologies to its Office package without dealing with Prof. Lee and it claimed the patents were not effective in the court,” P&IB President Kim Kil-hae said.

“But the Supreme Court decided in favor of us on the patents issue. As a result, we will be able to win at the pending damages suit in the Seoul High Court,” Kim said.

Microsoft lawyer Chung Jae-hoon said he was sure the patents would be invalidated.

Gates: !"£$%^&*() why 3 days before release!.
Ballmer: don't worry we'll make up that 75 suing the entire linux community.
Gates: Ballmer I could kiss you.