Microsoft's week involved losing a major Supreme Court case and siding with AT&T's acquisition plans for T-Mobile. 'Windows 8' rumors also abounded.
By the end of
this week, things were looking pretty dire for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) on the
On June 9, the
U.S. Supreme Court rejected the company's appeal in its long-running
patent-infringement suit with Canadian firm i4i, rendering Redmond vulnerable
to the nearly $300 million judgment delivered by the lower courts.
Court case is filed under Microsoft Corp. v. i4i Limited Partnership and
Infrastructures for Information, No. 10-290
needed to win five votes to succeed in its appeal, which sought to overturn
earlier rulings that Word 2003 and 2007 violated i4i's rights for custom XML.
Instead, the justices voted unanimously in favor of the U.S. Appeals Court's
earlier ruling. (Chief Justice John Roberts, an apparent owner of Microsoft stock
, had recused
himself from hearing the April arguments in the case.)
In April, Microsoft's
legal counsel argued that the overwhelming standard of evidence needed to
invalidate patents made it too difficult for companies to beat back frivolous patent-infringement
suits. The court evidently disagreed.
raised an important issue of law which the Supreme Court itself had questioned
in an earlier decision and which we believed needed resolution," a Microsoft
spokesperson wrote in a June 9 email to eWEEK.
"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."
first asked the Supreme Court to hear its appeal in August, seeking to overturn
earlier rulings concerning i4i's patents. The previous April, a federal Appeals
Court had rejected Microsoft's request for an 11-judge review of the lawsuit,
which resulted in that multimillion-dollar judgment.
legal ride extended back to August 2009, when the federal judge in the U.S.
District Court in Eastern Texas ordered that all copies of Word 2003 and 2007
be removed from retail channels within 90 days. Microsoft's attorneys managed
to argue a delay, only to have the U.S. Court of Appeals uphold the verdict
four months later. Microsoft then asked for that multi-judge review, in
addition to issuing a patch for Word that sidestepped the alleged infringement.
Court wasn't Microsoft's only government interaction this week. The company
also joined a handful of tech giants-including Facebook, Oracle, Research In
Motion and others-in publicly backing AT&T's bid to acquire T-Mobile.
network capacity challenges, policymakers must give meaningful consideration to
AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile as a means of addressing their near-term
wireless broadband capacity needs," read a June 6 letter to Federal
Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, signed by the companies
will help to meet the near-term wireless broadband needs of consumers," the letter
continues, "and ensure that we are globally competitive as the world
increasingly embraces wireless broadband connectivity."
For its part,
the FCC has asked AT&T for evidence supporting the carrier's claims that
its spectrum is insufficient to provide future service. Government regulators
are also interested in finding out whether AT&T's acquisition will result
in lost jobs. FCC officials have told eWEEK
they have no intention of giving the acquisition request a "rubber stamp."
Both the FCC
and the U.S. Department of Justice will ultimately need to examine whether the
acquisition violates antitrust regulations, and possibly ask the carrier for
concessions such as price caps. Sprint has also filed an official objection to
the acquisition with the FCC, arguing that the move would ultimately harm
broadband competition and consumers.
simply seeking a government bailout for problems of its own making and expects
the cost of the bailout to be shouldered by American consumers," read a May
statement by Vonya McCann, senior vice president of government affairs for
Sprint. "Instead of paying Deutsche Telekom [owners of T-Mobile] $39 billion,
AT&T could invest a fraction of that amount to expand its LTE [Long-Term
Evolution] deployment to nearly all Americans."
Microsoft's week wasn't all governmental fun-and-games. A spate of rumors
suggests Microsoft could be planning to manufacture its own brand of "Windows 8"
"sources from the upstream supply chain," the publication DigiTimes
suggested in a June 8 article
that Microsoft would collaborate
on the branded tablet with Texas Instruments and a variety of Taiwanese
"Xbox 360 is
currently the only own-brand product line that Microsoft has achieved success,"
it added, "while Zune media player, Kin smartphone and own-brand TVs all had
demonstrations at the 2011 Computex conference in Taiwan and the D:All Things
Digital Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Microsoft whipped the
curtain back from the next-generation Windows, which the company internally
refers to as "Windows 8." In place of the "traditional" Windows interface, with
a desktop and Start button, Windows 8 offers a set of colorful tiles that open
applications-a design that draws many of its visual cues from Windows Phone,
Microsoft's latest smartphone operating system.
Windows 8 is
designed to work on form factors, ranging from desktops and laptops to tablets.
In theory, this will allow Microsoft to not only preserve its substantial
market share in the realm of traditional operating systems, but also to make
inroads into the burgeoning consumer-tablet market currently dominated by
order to facilitate Windows 8's appearance on tablets, Microsoft is designing
the operating system to support SoC (system-on-a-chip) architecture, in
particular ARM-based systems from partners such as Qualcomm, Nvidia and Texas Instruments.
ARM architecture powers the lion's share of mobile devices on the market today.