It’s not like Microsoft doesn’t like patents. In fact, just last year Microsoft recorded its 10,000 U.S. patent and has aggressively defended and licensed patents in its portfolio as part of a broad intellectual property strategy.
But Microsoft itself is on the defensive in a patent dispute that could cost it $290 million. While Microsoft’s appeal of an earlier court decision is now headed for the U.S. Supreme Court, the software company’s deputy general counsel, David Howard, claims that the issues raised in the case are critical to the integrity of the U.S. patent system. The chairman of patent holder i4i agrees that it’s “a very high-profile case and a very important one. At some level you have to say, ‘why invent, why patent, and why enforce?’,” said Loudon Owen. Datamation has the story.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear Microsoft’s appeal of a $290 million patent infringement award granted to a tiny Toronto company in 2009.
Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has been fighting a pitched battle with the smaller firm — i4i — since 2009, when a federal jury decided that the software giant’s use of “custom XML editor” technology in Word 2003 and 2007, as well as in Office 2003 and 2007, violated i4i’s patents. Later versions of Word and Office — Office 2010, for instance — do not contain the offending code.