Microsoft won its appeal in a patent-infringement case leveled against it by software company Uniloc, which originally won a $388 million judgment against Redmond. The victory represents a bright spot of news for Microsoft on the legal front, where it continues to battle Canadian company i4i in a patent-infringement suit related to Microsoft Word.
received one favorable bit of legal news on Sept. 28, when a federal judge
ruled that the company did not infringe on a patent held by software company
Uniloc. A previous decision in the case had leveled $388 million in damages
"We are pleased that the court has vacated the jury verdict and entered
judgment in favor of Microsoft," Kevin Kutz, a Microsoft spokesperson,
The original lawsuit, filed in September 2003, argued that Microsoft's
anti-piracy registration system for Windows XP and parts of Office violated
Uniloc's patent for product activation. In 2006, U.S. District Judge William
Smith issued a judgment in favor of Microsoft, which Uniloc appealed. According
to court documents
, Smith initially indicated that he would "appoint
an independent expert or special master to assist in deciding the motions given
the complicated subject matter," but instead hired an "evening law
student who was finishing his Ph.D. in computer science" to review the
case. Furthermore, Uniloc claimed, "the intern had numerous ties to
Uniloc's appeal was heard, and in August 2008, the case went back to trial
in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island, resulting in a
judgment against Microsoft in April 2009. "We are very disappointed,"
David Bowermaster, a Microsoft spokesperson, said in an e-mailed statement at
the time. "We believe that we do not infringe, that the patent is invalid
and that this award of damages is legally and factually unsupported."
This latest twist in the case had Smith once again ruling in favor of
The ruling represents good news for Microsoft, which
currently finds itself in legal difficulty over a patent-infringement case
leveled against it by Canadian firm i4i
. The judgment leveled in that case
in August stipulated that Microsoft pay $300 million and pull all copies of
Microsoft Word, which allegedly violates i4i's patents, within 60 days.
On Sept. 3, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that
Microsoft could keep selling Word during the case. In addition, two companies
in Microsoft's ecosystem, Dell and Hewlett-Packard, have both filed
friends-of-the-court briefs. Microsoft's hearing in appeals court was on Sept.
23, but no verdict has yet been handed down in the matter.