Supreme Court agrees to hear Microsoft patent infringement appeal

Just when it looked as if Microsoft had thrown in the towel in the ongoing patent infringement case involving Toronto-based i4i, the Supreme Court has agreed to reconsider Microsoft's appeal.

Just when it looked as if Microsoft had thrown in the towel in the ongoing patent infringement case involving Toronto-based i4i, the Supreme Court has agreed to reconsider Microsoft's appeal.

The case will examine what should constitute the proper legal standard for determining a patent's validity. Microsoft and a number of companies backing its play -- including Apple, Google, Intel, Verizon, a number of auto makers, drug companies and financial services companies -- all are in favor of the Court to make it easier for companies facing infringement suits to prove a patent is invalid.

“We are gratified by the Court’s decision. It’s a clear affirmation that the issues raised in this case are critical to the integrity of our patent system.  We look forward to presenting our case to the Supreme Court," said David Howard, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Deputy General Counsel for Litigation.

i4i Inc. sued Microsoft for infringement over a patent for custom XML. i4i won the case in the summer of 2009. In December 2009, Microsoft lost its appeal of the case, heard by an East Texas District Court, and was ordered to pay i4i more than $290 million and remove the custom XML technology from certain versions of Microsoft Word.

I4i, as expected, is against the Supreme Court rehearing, and its officials are saying "any changes to the standards for proving the invalidity of patents should be made by Congress, not the courts," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Oral arguments will likely take place in the spring with a decision expected by the end of June, 2011, according to the Journal.

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