Software Patents – US Government vs. Microsoft


The US Supreme Court will hear argument on April 18 in the patent infringement case in which Microsoft has been enjoined from selling Word with XML features.  The US Solicitor General filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court against Microsoft and endorsing the US Patent & Trademark Office who issued the 5,787,449 patent that protected i4i’s metacode technology.  More than 100 companies have filed amicus briefs supporting i4i including the military and venture capitalists.  On the other hand Microsoft has “20 amicus briefs, which represent about 60 companies and individuals, including Google, Apple, Cisco, Intel, Red Hat, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and 37 law and economics professors.”  The Supreme Court ruling in the i4i case will have a significant impact on patent law in the US, but many thought the Supreme Court would clarify software patents in the Bilski case, but unfortunately that did not happen.  In the meantime Congress is once again considering legislation reforming patent laws.  Stay tuned for changes to patent laws in the US.

2009 Patent Judgment

Before the case got to the Supreme Court, Microsoft lost its appeal to the US Federal Circuit which sustained the trial court decision from 2009 where US District Judge Leonard Davis (Eastern District of Texas in Tyler) enjoined Microsoft from selling XML components of Word.  Also Judge Davis ordered Microsoft to pay $40 million for willful infringement and $37 million in prejudgment interest. This injunction and award of willful damages follows a May, 2009 jury verdict that ordered Microsoft to pay i4i $200 million for infringing the 5,787,449 patent.

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