Microsoft files petition with Supreme Court to overturn i4i patent ruling

Microsoft lost $290 million in a judgment against it over use of XML in Word

Microsoft said it would escalate its fight against i4i to the Supreme Court and today it has. Microsoft today has filed a petition for a writ of certiorari, seeking a review of the i4i versus Microsoft patent infringement by the highest court. It hopes to overturn the $290 million judgment against it. i4i claimed that Word's custom XML feature violated i4i's patent on the technology. Lower courts have so far, agreed. As documents from i4i summarize:

"In March 2007, i4i sued Microsoft for willful infringement of its United States Patent 5,787,449 ('449). On May 20, 2009, the jury found i4is Patent '449 valid and infringed, and awarded Microsoft to pay damages to i4i. On August 11, 2009, The Honorable Leonard Davis issued a Final Judgment against Microsoft that included both an award of damages in excess of $290 million USD to i4i, and a Permanent Injunction, which took effect on January 11, 2010. Microsoft unsuccessfully appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit late last year, and also unsuccessfully sought a rehearing of the decision of the Court of Appeals earlier this year."

In December, Microsoft said it would take further legal action. Kevin Kutz, Director of Public Affairs, said in a press release:

"While we are moving quickly to address the injunction issue, we are also considering our legal options, which could include a request for a rehearing by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals en banc or a request for a writ of certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court."

Microsoft also said in its annual report it was planning on taking this to the Supreme Court. Microsoft is currently fending off 50 patent infringement suits that all told, add up to billions in losses. In the meantime, enterprise users who need new computers with Word may think about upgrading to Office 2010. "Office 2010 is free of a federal court injunction," writes Robert Mullins.

Microsoft promised to have copies of Microsoft Word 2007 and Office 2007 available for purchase that removed this feature. Most online stores are still offering Office 2007, Word included. Since Microsoft may actually be helped by this injunction -- giving users a reason, albeit a bad one, to upgrade to Office 2010 -- it's odd to me that Microsoft is fighting this loss so strongly. $290 million is nothing to sneeze at, that's true, plus legal fees. But why is it that I sense a bit of the "pipsqueak-can't-do-this-to-us" mentality going on in Redmond?

We'll see if the Supreme Court chooses to weigh in on this matter. I find it hard to believe this case would interest them.

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