Court to Reconsider Microsoft Verdict

By Cindy Waxer November 29, 2010

Microsoft is banking on the Supreme Court to reverse a multi-million-dollar judgment against the technology giant. The court has agreed to hear an appeal from Microsoft regarding an ongoing dispute between the company and Toronto-based i4i.

In a no-holds-barred David and Goliath battle, i4i, a tiny software manufacturer, won a $290 million court judgment against Microsoft in August 2009. At the time, a Texas jury ordered Microsoft to pay $290 million in damages and stop selling Word in the U.S. for violating an i4i patent that encompasses features found in Word 2003 and Word 2007.

"We are disappointed by the court’s ruling," said Kevin Kutz, Microsoft's director of public affairs. "We believe the evidence clearly demonstrated that we do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid. We will appeal the verdict."

Although Microsoft did in fact appeal that decision, a federal appeals court upheld the judgment in December, issuing an injunction that prevents Microsoft from selling versions of Word that contain the patent technology now in dispute. The court's ruling took effect on Jan. 11, 2010.

Now Microsoft is fighting back and for good reason: Microsoft Word is an integral part of Microsoft Office. The Supreme Court will hear the case sometime next year.

Still, Microsoft has seen both sides of patent dispute warfare. In early October, the Redmond giant launched a suit against Motorola for infringing on its patents related to “synchronizing e-mail, calendars and contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power” with its Android-based smartphones.

Motorola has also thrown its hat into the patent dispute ring. In October, a jury in Texas ordered Apple to pay a staggering $625.5 million for violating three patents owned by Mirror Words, a firm founded by David Gelernter, a Yale University computer science professor. Apple is challenging the verdict from a federal court in Tyler, Texas, saying the court has not yet looked at some of its counterclaims.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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