RealTime IT News

Microsoft Claims i4i's Evidence is 'Irrelevant'

As the clock ticks down to Microsoft's hearing next week before the appeals court regarding its patent lawsuit tête-à-tête with i4i, Monday was the day for the software titan to submit its final brief in the smaller firm's $290 million patent infringement case.

Meanwhile, Toronto-based i4i submitted its final brief in the case last week.

In the final documents, the level of vitriol between the two parties is palpable.

Microsoft began its final appellate brief by arguing that i4i's evidence in the case is "irrelevant."

The submission by i4i set the tone by accusing Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) of purposely destroying the company's business, relegating it to a niche market specializing in selling software to pharmaceutical firms.

A lower court jury last spring found Microsoft guilty of infringing i4i's patent on "custom" eXtensible Markup Language (XML) technology for formatting documents. Initially, Microsoft partnered with i4i to provide the custom formatting technology that some Word customers needed.

Later, once Microsoft had begun work on its own, the software giant cut off communications with i4i, despite the fact that i4i holds an 11-year-old patent on the technology, the smaller firm alleges.

In mid-August, the lower court judge awarded i4i a total of $290 million, and issued a permanent injunction barring Microsoft from selling any versions of Word containing the offending code as of October 10.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, however, stayed the injunction in early September.

From the briefs, it's clear the two parties' stances are quite different.

A breathless tale?

As opposed to i4i's brief, Microsoft claims it is being unfairly labeled as having "usurped" the Toronto firm's patented technology.

"Yet that breathless tale is belied by i4i's own allegations: i4i admitted there was no evidence Microsoft copied its technology and explicitly disclaimed making any such contention," Microsoft's brief said.

Instead, Microsoft's lawyers contended that the case was filed by "litigation investors" -- apparently a thinly veiled reference to so-called "patent trolls" who acquire patents in order to use them to reap profits from licensing them or suing companies for infringement.

"It [the suit] was filed … fully four years after i4i congratulated Microsoft on the release of its supposedly infringing product," Microsoft's brief continued.

Among a litany of other arguments, Microsoft also claimed that the use of custom XML to provide editing and file formatting is too obvious to qualify as a valid patent.

Meanwhile, i4i's feathers were unruffled by Microsoft's brief.

"This filing by Defendant-Appellant Microsoft Corporation adds nothing to the process, and i4i looks forward to September 23," Loudon Owen, chairman of i4i, said in a statement e-mailed to InternetNews.com. "We are confident we will prevail."

The appeals court is primed to hear from both parties at a formal hearing on September 23.