Microsoft loses in patent appeal case

WASHINGTON: A US court of appeals has barred Microsoft from selling certain versions of its popular Word programme and ordered it to pay $290 million dollars in a patent dispute with a Canadian company.

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a jury verdict and lower court ruling in the patent case filed against the US software giant by Toronto-based i4i Inc nearly three years ago.

“This ruling is clear and convincing evidence that our case was just and right, and that Microsoft willfully infringed our patent,” i4i founder Michel Vulpe said in a statement.

“This is what we’ve been looking for since March 2007,” added i4i chairman Loudon Owen. “We are vindicated and we’re appreciative but we’re not surprised because we believed from the outset that we had a great case and that the trial judge made the right decision.”

A US District Court judge in Texas on August 12 upheld both a jury ruling that Microsoft’s Word programme violates an XML patent held by i4i and the award of more than $290 million dollars in damages and interest.

The judge also issued an injunction that would ban Microsoft from selling versions of its word processing programme Word that infringe on the patented technology, which Microsoft dismissed yesterday as a “little-used feature.” The Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft appealed but the three-judge Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled against the software powerhouse.

Microsoft indicated yesterday it may file further appeals and said in a statement it was “moving quickly” to comply with the injunction on selling certain Word products, which takes effect on January 11, 2010.

“It’s really in Microsoft’s court if they want to make a further appeal or not,” Owen said. “They can try. As we understand it it’s up to the Supreme Court to decide if they want to hear an appeal or not. “It’s not a matter of right, it’s a matter of privilege,” he said.