Microsoft Wins Office Patent Case

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2004-09-30 Print this article Print

A jury finds that a Smart Tags feature in Microsoft Office does not infringe on a little-known company's patent.

Microsoft Corp. has won a favorable jury verdict in a 2-year-old patent-infringement case regarding technology used in its Office productivity suite. After a two-week trial, a jury in U.S. District Court in Providence, R.I., ruled Wednesday that Microsofts Smart Tags technology does not infringe on a patent held by Norwegian inventor Alte Hedloy of Arendi Holding Ltd., a Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed. The case centered on one of the three Smart Tags built into Microsoft Office XP and 2003. The feature in question works in Microsoft Word and associates a typed name with a contact in Microsoft Outlook. When users type a name, they can click an option to automatically enter the person into their Outlook contacts or, if the contact already exists, look up contact information or send an e-mail.
Read more here about Smart Tags.
Arendi alleged that the Smart Tags feature infringed on its patent, No. 6,323,853 and issued in 2001, which covers a method and system for retrieving information such as names and addresses with a single click. A jury disagreed. While it ruled that Smart Tags do not infringe on the patent, the jury did find that the patent itself is valid, said a spokeswoman at Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft. Arendi officials could not be reached for comment. The Arendi case is the second patent-infringement case Microsoft has won regarding Offices Smart Tags technology. Last year, a federal judge dismissed another case brought by Hyperphrase Technologies LLC and Hyperphrase Inc. after Microsoft requested a summary judgment. Check out eWEEK.coms Enterprise Applications Center at for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.

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Matthew Hicks As an online reporter for, Matt Hicks covers the fast-changing developments in Internet technologies. His coverage includes the growing field of Web conferencing software and services. With eight years as a business and technology journalist, Matt has gained insight into the market strategies of IT vendors as well as the needs of enterprise IT managers. He joined Ziff Davis in 1999 as a staff writer for the former Strategies section of eWEEK, where he wrote in-depth features about corporate strategies for e-business and enterprise software. In 2002, he moved to the News department at the magazine as a senior writer specializing in coverage of database software and enterprise networking. Later that year Matt started a yearlong fellowship in Washington, DC, after being awarded an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellowship for Journalist. As a fellow, he spent nine months working on policy issues, including technology policy, in for a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He rejoined Ziff Davis in August 2003 as a reporter dedicated to online coverage for Along with Web conferencing, he follows search engines, Web browsers, speech technology and the Internet domain-naming system.

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