Microsoft takes Word patent battle to US apex court

August 31st, 2010 - 1:04 pm ICT by IANS  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, Aug 31 (IANS) Microsoft, which lost its patent battle over Word processing software to a tiny Toronto firm i4i Inc. and was ordered to pay $290 million in damages last year, has taken the matter to the US Supreme Court.

The Canadian company had taken the software giant to court in 2007 over violations of its patent in Word applications and won the case and got $290 million in damages last December.

The US court of appeals had upheld a lower court order banning Microsoft from selling its patent-infringing Word processing software from January 11.

In May, the US Patent and Trademark Office also confirmed a patent held by i4i Inc.

But the software giant took the case to the US apex court last week, Microsoft spokesman Kevin Kutz confirmed Monday. “Our petition to the Supreme Court focuses on proper standards of proof to determine the validity of a patent, which is a crucial issue for the proper functioning of the patent system,” he said in a statement.

Responding to Microsoft’s move, Michel Vulpe, founder of Toronto-based i4i Inc. and co-inventor of the patent, told the Canadian Press, “We are in this to assert and enforce our patent rights.”

He said, “We see that not only as an issue for us but as an issue all patent holders to have their rights enforced and

to make it clear that companies like Microsoft, despite their resources, simply can’t walk over small patent holders.”

In its lawsuit filed in March 2007, i4i had claimed that the world’s biggest software company infringed on a patent granted to it in 1998.

The patent pertained to i4i’s technology that can open documents using the XML computer programming language and manipulate complex data in electronic documents.

The technology allows users to sort out and manage tons of information by turning complex documents into more accessible databases.

The Toronto company claimed that Microsoft violated its patent when it created Word 2003 and Word 2007 software.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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