June 9, 2011

Microsoft Loses Patent Infringement Case

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling on Thursday, ordering Microsoft to pay $290 million to a Canadian company in a patent infringement case.

I4i Inc. sued the software giant in 2007, claiming that some versions of popular Word software violated patent rights it held to XML technology.

A U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict and lower court ruling in December 2009 in the case ordering Microsoft to pay $290 million in i4i.

The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the appeals court ruling on Thursday.

Michel Vulpe, founder and chief technology officer of i4i said the case is not entirely over since Microsoft has a challenge to the patent pending at the patent office and may have to pay other potential licensing fees.

"We're very pleased that the court did the right thing," and that the decision was unanimous, he told Reuters.

Microsoft said it set the money aside so it was not material to their earnings.

"While the outcome is not what we had hoped for, we will continue to advocate for changes to the law that will prevent abuse of the patent system and protect inventors who hold patents representing true innovation," Microsoft spokesman Kevin Kutz said in an email statement to Reuters.

Microsoft was accused by i4i of infringing on a 1998 XML patent in its Word 2003 and Word 2007 programs.

Word uses XML to open .XML, .DOCX, and .DOCM files.


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