The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled against Microsoft in an appeal tied to a major patent dispute, ordering the Redmond-based company to pay a record $290 million patent fine. Supreme Court justices voted unanimously to uphold an earlier judgement stating Microsoft had infringed patents belonging to small Canadian software firm i4i. The judgement comes following a legal battle that began in 2007 when i4i sued the software giant claiming its Microsoft Word productivity software infringed on i4i patents. I4i was awarded $290 million by a federal judge at that time, and Microsoft would proceed to appeal the ruling for four years despite agreeing to alter its software in order to remove the infringing features. More →
A four-year old patent dispute is about to be put to rest. In a complaint originally filed in 2007, Toronto-based firm i4i alleged that Microsoft used proprietary code to display XML files in its Microsoft Word 2003 product. A Texas jury ruled in favor of i4i in August of 2009, and awarded the company a $290 million settlement — Microsoft was also barred from selling Word 2003 until i4i’s code was removed. The U.S. software giant has excavated the bits in question, but Microsoft is looking to the country’s highest court for a more preferable decision. After several failed attempts to have i4i’s patents reviewed and invalidated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case. Both Microsoft and i4i will be given 30 minutes to explain to the eight Justices — Chief Justice John Roberts has recused himself — why the patent is valid. But the case will take on a greater meaning, going well beyond this one piece of intellectual property. Microsoft will argue that patent law, as it currently stands, is stifling innovation, whilst i4i will argue the contrary. The court began hearing arguments this Monday, and its decision is expected to have a significant, and potentially far reaching, impact on patent cases currently in waiting. More →
January 11th was zero hour for Microsoft as the injunction against Word and Office 2007 went into effect. The software giant out of Redmond had indicated that it was prepared for the injunction and would have it products fixed and ready to roll on the injunction date. Despite its good intentions, Microsoft failed to deliver this update and has pulled most of its Office 2007 and Word 2007 products from the shelves of its online store. Microsoft informs customers that these affected Office and Word 2007 versions are being updated and will be returning soon. The software giant advises customers to purchase Office Ultimate for $679 or try out the beta version of Office 2010. Not interested in a suite of software that costs more than your monthly car payment? Hurry on over to Amazon, Newegg and other retailers who, for the time being, are still selling the affected products. More →
In an interesting turn of events, Seattle PI is reporting that a Texas judge has ordered Microsoft to cease all sales of its famed word processor in the US within 60 days. No, seriously. The injunction came as the result of a patent dispute between Canadian software company i4i and Microsoft regarding the processes with which Word handles XML files. This isn’t the first victory for i4i over the Washingtonian beast either — back in May a court awarded the company $200 million in damages as it found Microsoft had knowingly infringed on the same patent. That judgment is still being appealed and of course Microsoft isn’t going to stop selling Word any time soon as a result of this new injunction. In the end, Redmond will appeal related rulings as long as it can and then it’ll cut a check and be done with the matter. Oh yes, it will be a large check.