Microsoft must pay record $290m for patent infringement

13 Jun, 2011

Software giant Microsoft has been denied an appeal by the US Supreme Court against a record $290 million verdict for patent infringement.

The small Canadian company, i4i, sued Microsoft in 2007, claiming it owned the technology behind a text manipulation tool used in Microsoft’s Word application. Lower courts had said Microsoft wilfully breached the patent, and Microsoft was ordered to pay up and cease selling the infringing technology, according to the BBC.

According to Reuters, the high court refused to adopt Microsoft’s lower standard to replace the long-standing requirement that a defendant in a patent infringement case prove by 70-80 per cent of the ‘clear and convincing’ evidence that a plaintiff’s patent is invalid.

Microsoft argued that they should only need to show that more than 50 per cent of the evidence was in its favour.

Previously, President Obama’s administration called for the court to uphold the higher standard of proof, saying that Congress had accepted the standard in effect for the past 28 years and the Supreme Court should uphold it.

According to a statement, the world’s largest software company said:”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.”

Microsoft now sells versions of Word that do not contain the technology in question.

Chairman of i4i, Loudon Owen, was pleased with the outcome, commenting: “Microsoft tried to gut the value of patents by introducing a lower standard for invalidating patents.

“It is now 100 per cent clear that you can only invalidate a patent based on ‘clear and convincing’ evidence.”

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