Microsoft will have its appeal in a long-running patent-infringement case with Canadian firm i4i heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear Microsoft's appeal in its long-running
patent case with Canadian firm i4i. That decision not only gives Microsoft yet
another shot at overturning a substantial monetary judgment, but gives the Supreme
Court a chance to leave its mark on the escalating patent-infringement battles
gripping the tech industry.
The case before the Supreme Court is Microsoft
v. i4i Limited Partnership, 10-290
, and will be heard in early 2011.
Microsoft first asked the Supreme Court to hear its appeal in August,
seeking to overturn earlier rulings that both Microsoft Word 2003 and 2007
violated i4i's patents for custom XML. In April, a federal appeals court had
rejected Microsoft's request for a multiple-judge review of the lawsuit, which
resulted in a nearly $300 million judgment.
As with all their previous missives on the subject, i4i's executives
indicated that they will pursue the case to the bitter end. "We continue
to be confident that i4i will prevail," Loudon Owen, i4i's chairman, wrote
in an Aug. 27 statement to Reuters
in-depth breakdown of i4i's patent by eWEEK
can be found here. Because of
Microsoft's alleged violation, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court in Eastern
Texas ordered in August 2009 that all copies of Word 2003 and 2007
be removed from retail channels within 90 days. Despite Microsoft's attorneys
managing to argue a delay, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled four months later to
uphold the verdict, and ordered that the offending copies of Word be yanked
from store shelves by early January 2010.
Microsoft responded by asking for a review by all 11 judges on the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, while also issuing a patch for Word
that it insisted would sidestep the alleged infringement. The 12.9MB patch,
made available on Microsoft's OEM Partner Center Website, removed custom XML
elements from documents with those file types.
Yet the legal saga rolled merrily onward. In May, the U.S. Patent and
Trademark Office confirmed the validity of i4i's patent, something that
Microsoft spokesperson Kevin Kutz termed "disappointing."
In contrast to any number of patent-infringement cases quickly settled
behind closed doors for undisclosed sums, i4i seems determined to keep
Microsoft fighting in the courtroom. "Where we come from, if someone tries
to take something that belongs to you, you stand up to them; you don't just
reach for the calculator," Owen
told eWEEK in August 2009
. "We're not in a position to guess or
second-guess or speculate as to what the court is going to do."
Whatever the Supreme Court's ultimate decision in the case, it could set a
precedent for brewing patent-infringement battles. Microsoft
is currently locking horns over intellectual property with Motorola
is also being sued by Apple, which is battling with HTC
and Nokia over the rights to certain mobile technology-merely the latest twists
in an increasing trend.