Supreme Court rules against Microsoft's attempt to alter patent-infringement rules

Summary:The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Microsoft to change the ground rules over how patent infringement is determined.

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Microsoft to change the ground rules over how patent infringement is determined.

On June 9, the Supreme Court upheld the nearly $300 million verdict in favor of Toronto-based i4i against Microsoft. The justices were unanimous in their decision, according to a Reuters report.

Here's a copy of the Court's verdict against Microsoft (PDF).

Microsoft was attempting to get the court to change what constitutes 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 — were in favor of the Court to make it easier for companies facing infringement suits to prove a patent is invalid.

The Supreme Court agreed in November 2010 to hear the case. reported in April of this year on the arguments in court and provided a transcript of the Supreme Court hearing.

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.

Microsoft officials said they'd have a statement on today's loss coming soon. Update: And here it is from a company spokesperson:

“This case raised an important issue of law which the Supreme Court itself had questioned in an earlier decision and which we believed needed resolution.  While the outcome is not what we had hoped for, we will continue to advocate for changes to the law that will prevent abuse of the patent system and protect inventors who hold patents representing true innovation.“

Topics: Microsoft, Legal


Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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