April 2, 2010

Microsoft’s Appeal For Patent Case Rejected

Microsoft Corp.'s request for a full panel of judges to rehear arguments in its long-running patent dispute with a small Canadian technology company was denied by a federal appeals court on Thursday, according to a Reuters report.

The decision is a blow to Microsoft as it has been embroiled in a dispute with Toronto-based i4i Ltd over three years now concerning a Microsoft Word application feature.

According to a spokesman, Microsoft could still take the case to the U.S Supreme Court, or make a new request to the appeals court.  The software maker is considering its options said the spokesman.

A federal jury awarded i4i $290 million after deciding that Microsoft had infringed on a patent belonging to the company relating to text manipulation software in the 2003 and 2007 versions of Word.

The court also granted i4i's motion for an injunction preventing Microsoft from selling versions of Word containing the technology.  Microsoft has now removed the contested features from its current software.

In December, a panel of three appeals court judges rejected Microsoft's arguments for an appeal.
Microsoft asked for a rehearing in January by all 11 judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  The court rejected that request on Thursday. 

"This has been a long and arduous process, but this decision is a powerful reinforcement of the message that smaller enterprises and inventors who own intellectual property can and will be protected," said Loudon Owen, chairman of i4i, in a statement.

"We're disappointed with the decision," a Microsoft spokesman said. "We continue to believe there are important matters of patent law that still need to be properly addressed, and we are considering our options for going forward."


On the Net: