Microsoft Loses Ancient Patent Lawsuit Against Alcatel-Lucent; Must Shell Out $70 Million

Back in 2003 when most of us were kids, and Facebook and Twitter did not yet exist, Alcatel-Lucent, a telecommunication equipment manufacturer from France had filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft.

Alcatel-Lucent claimed Microsoft was infringing on its patents related to touch screen form entry in applications such as Microsoft Outlook, among others.

In 2008, Alcatel-Lucent won the lawsuit and was awarded $358 millon in damages. However, Microsoft appealed against the verdict and managed to get a retrial to reassess the damages.

Today, according to a report by Bloomberg, a federal jury ruled that Microsoft would have to pay $70 million in damages. Alcatel-Lucent had asked for about $75 million while Microsoft asked the jury to limit the amount to only $5 million.

    Alcatel-Lucent is obviously pleased with the verdict and the jury’s recognition in the value of the Day patent that Microsoft infringed,said Luke Dauchot, a lawyer for Alcatel-Lucent.

This new verdict is much more favorable for Microsoft than the original ruling that required them to pay $358 million in damages.

    “We continue to maintain that current law requires a genuine apportionment of damages when the infringement is directed to a small feature of a feature-rich product. We are reviewing the verdict in that light and considering next steps.” said David Howard, Microsoft’s deputy general counsel.

Microsoft has been involved in a lot of patent lawsuits lately. It stands to make more than a billion dollars in patent licensing fees and damages off Android. It is also a major investor in Intellectual Ventures, infamously known as the world’s largest patent troll.

Microsoft’s Cloud OS To Streamline Experience Across Your Phone, Desktop & TV

I decided to skip writing about these patents because gesture patents don’t really excite me since I don’t think they should be granted. However, now that Tom at Winrumors has taken the trouble of sharing the information, I thought I’d share some details.


Gesture patents having cloud in their descriptions get my attention. Last time around, I came across a patent that explained custom Kinect gestures as roaming profiles (it is as cool as it sounds). Reading through patents I found the relevant cloud part that explains some very intriguing possibilities. Microsoft is rumored to be working towards a one-codebase across the Xbox, Windows Phone and Desktop/Tablet after Windows 8 and these patent applications fit in that vision. (I wouldn’t be surprised if 4 years from now I tell someone that I knew about this feature.)

The engineers try to explain how Natural User Interfaces are now being used to interact with the television (Xbox Kinect), touch phones and tablets. These screens have different user interaction experiences and so does the desktop. Microsoft hopes to have all your devices connected to a cloud server farm. This server farm will push out gesture profiles based on the device you are using (or something like that).

the central computing device is a “cloud” server farm […] this interconnection architecture enables functionality to be delivered across multiple devices to provide a common and seamless experience to the user […] Each of the multiple devices may have different physical requirements and capabilities, and the central computing device uses a platform to enable the delivery of an experience to the device that is both tailored to the device and yet common to all devices.

The cloud is illustrated as including a platform for web services. The platform abstracts underlying functionality of hardware (e.g., servers) and software resources of the cloud and thus may act as a “cloud operating system.”

For example, the platform may abstract resources to connect the computing device with other computing devices.

Accordingly, in an interconnected device embodiment, implementation of functionality of the gesture module may be distributed throughout the system. For example, the gesture module may be implemented in part on the computing device as well as via the platform that abstracts the functionality of the cloud.

As I said, the possibilities described are exciting. Nilay Patel wrote about the one Windows for all screens and the patent explains the benefits of the concept – load balancing, malware protection and performance scalability.

Microsoft’s patent also explains how they plan to implement stylus and finger touch working together in their multi-touch products. Based on the spread-size of the object touching, the system will be able to distinguish between the stylus and the fingers.

Patent Application

Breakdown Of The Patents Against Kinect & A Look At Microsoft’s Patent Portfolio

A hot, boring, lazy Friday just turned exciting. As we reported earlier, Microsoft has been sued by Ohio based Impulse Technology Limited. Impulse claims that the Xbox Kinect infringes 7 patents the company owns. I have been closely following Microsoft’s patent portfolio for quite a while. Microsoft has been filing for several (and I mean) several patent relating to body movements, gestures and Kinect. I have done a quick preliminary search to find some of the patents. There are more, the search on USPTO is more broken than their patent system.

Going through the patent applications and Impulse’s statement, the case seems more against how Kinect Fitness leverages body scanning, room environment for health stuff. The patent claims are broad and also cover some of Kinect’s key operations. Here’s what Impulse has sued Microsoft for:

The first claim in 3 of the 7 patents (6,430,997 6,876,496 & 6,308,565) is the same. Way to go patent lawyers.

A testing and training system comprising a continuous tracking system for determining changes in an overall physical location of a player, in a defined physical space; a computer operatively coupled to the tracking system for updating in real time a player virtual location in a virtual space corresponding to the physical location of the player in the physical space, for updating a view of the virtual space, and for providing at least one indicia of performance of the player moving in the physical space, wherein the at least one indicia is or is derived from a measure of a movement parameter of the player.

Patent 6,430,997 has 30 claims, some key ones:

A reactive power training system comprising: a reactive training device which provides cues to elicit responsive changes in an overall physical location of a subject in at least two dimensions; and a resistive training device; wherein the reactive training device and the resistive training device are used in a training sequence.

A method of reactive power training for a user using a reactive training device and one or more resistive training devices, comprising: performing a training sequence, wherein the performing the training sequence includes: exercising utilizing the reactive training device, to perform reactive training bouts; and performing resistive strength enhancing activities on the one or more resistive training devices, to perform resistive training bouts; wherein the reactive training bouts are alternated with the resistive training bouts.

marker worn by the subject, wherein the reactive training device tracks movement of the marker.

a transmitter worn by the subject which transmits information to the reactive training device without being physically connected to the reactive training device.

wherein the information includes an identification of the subject.

wherein the information includes the subject’s heart rate.

wherein the transmitter acts as a marker, allowing the reactive training device to track location of the subject.

Claim #2 and #3 are Kinect Fitness. The rest of the claims I’ve listed also relate to Kinect Fitness. However, Kinect does not use any such transmitter device, sensor does all the magic. Kinect Fitness however does receive feedback about the user’s body. The Kinect sensor can be considered as the reactive device in this case.

Patent 6,765,726 has 16 claims:

A multiuser physical assessment system comprising: a first tracking system for determining changes in a first overall physical location of a first user within a first physical space; a second tracking system for determining changes in a second overall physical location of a second user within a second physical space; and at least one computer operatively coupled to the tracking systems for updating user virtual locations in a virtual space corresponding to the physical locations of the users; wherein performance of at least one of the users in the virtual space is modified so as to handicap one of the users relative to the other user.

[…] first and second displays operatively coupled to the at least one computer, wherein the displays display respective views of the virtual space; wherein the displays display different views of the virtual space; wherein the tracking systems are both continuous three-dimensional tracking systems; and wherein the at least one computer updates in real time the user virtual locations in the virtual space.

[…] wherein the first view includes first virtual representations of at least parts of both of the users; and wherein the second view includes second virtual representations of at least parts of both of the users.

All claims in this application are related to how Kinect works.

Patent 6,876,496 has 20 claims:

the computer provides at least one indicium of performance of the player moving in the physical space, wherein the at least one indicium is or is derived from a measure of a movement parameter of the player.

the view of the virtual space includes a player icon located at the player virtual location.

the updating of the protagonist virtual location is made in response to the changes in the physical location of the player, such that the virtual protagonist and the player engage in an interactive task.

These claims, again, go on to cover how Kinect tracks the users and displays it. Instead of an icon, Kinect shows a translucent 2D figure.

Patent 7,359,121 has 27 claims. Key claims:

A method for prompting a user to engage in a physical activity, the method comprising: causing displaying of a representation of the user on a monitor, wherein the displaying of the representation includes moving the representation of the user to reflect movement of the user; causing displaying of one or more virtual objects on the monitor, wherein the displaying of the one or more virtual objects includes displaying the one or more virtual objects to prompt physical motion of the user […]

[…] displaying the virtual objects of the method includes prompting the user to perform an interception task that includes the representation of the user moving to have the representation of the user intercept at least some of the targets.

Prompting user to engage in a physical activity, is more of what Microsoft & Kinect game advertisers are doing. Having said that, this patent is about Kinect, a moving representation of the user is the 2D figure we see in games.

Patent 7,791,808 with 20 claims:

the tracking system continuously tracks an overall physical location of the user in a defined physical space corresponding to the virtual space; wherein the computer updates in real time a user virtual location in the virtual space corresponding to the physical location of the player in the physical space; and wherein the viewpoint of the view is from the user virtual location.

the view is a first person view

he first person view is a first person perspective view

the tracking system tracks the translations in three dimensions

the tracking system includes a beacon worn by the user

the tracking system includes a camera

All claims, except user wearing a beacon are how Kinect works.

Patent 6,749,432 with 18 claims has a funny title: Education system challenging a subject’s physiologic and kinesthetic systems to synergistically enhance cognitive function

A method of educating comprising: prompting a person to engage in body core movement which elevates the person’s metabolic rate; and prompting the person to engage in a cognitive academic learning task while the person’s metabolic rate is elevated, wherein the prompting to engage in a cognitive academic learning task includes displaying a view of a virtual space, and wherein the promoting to engage in body core movement and the prompting to engage in a cognitive academic learning task both include promoting the person to engage in a body core movement cognitive academic learning task.

he updating a view includes updating a first person perspective view of the virtual space from the virtual location

prompting to engage in a body core movement cognitive academic learning task includes prompting the person to engage in interactive challenges that involve manipulation of objects in a virtual world by body core movement of the person in a defined physical space

further including ascertaining the degree of metabolic rate elevation

including adjusting the prompting to engage in body core movement to maintain the metabolic rate elevation at a desired level

ascertaining the degree of metabolic rate elevation includes monitoring the person’s heart rate

These claims would be akin to Kinect Fitness including a freaky 3D doctor telling you why you need to do certain exercises. This patent application deals with Kinect Fitness and maybe broadly apply to other games.

Patent 6,208,565 has a 100 claims. Most of these claims are slight modifications of claims in the other patents or exactly the same. Once again, way to go patent lawyers.

These are the 7 patents Impulse has sued Microsoft. Now let’s take a look at a fraction of the Kinectgesture patents Microsoft has applied for.

Patents 20110032336 20110109724 20100194872 deal with body scanning:

A device for capturing depth information of a scene, the device comprising: a camera component, wherein the camera component receives a depth image of the scene; and a processor, wherein the processor executes computer executable instructions, and wherein the computer executable instructions comprise instructions for: receiving the depth image of the scene from the camera component; determining whether the depth image includes a human target; scanning the human target to locate at least a first joint, if the depth image includes a human target […]

A 3D user scanning device, using cameras.

Patent 20110035666 is about displaying the position of a user on the screen. (Something Impulse has claimed.) The abstract of the patent says:

A capture device may capture a user’s motion and a display device may display a model that maps to the user’s motion, including gestures that are applicable for control.

A claim from the patent:

A method for determining whether to provide feedback, the method comprising: receiving image data for a scene, wherein the image data comprises depth data representative of a target’s motion or position in a physical space; comparing the depth data representative of the target’s motion or position in the physical space […]

Patent 20110085705 is about scanning props (or objects as Impulse has mentioned in their applications):

acquiring one or more color images from one or more color sensing image sensors, the step of performing prop tracking includes using color information from the one or more color images to help track the second target.

the step of performing skeletal tracking includes receiving position information regarding the second target, the position information is taken into consideration when determining the first position of the first target.

the step of performing prop tracking includes receiving position information regarding the first target, the position information is taken into consideration when determining the second position of the second target.

receiving orientation information from the first prop, the step of performing prop tracking uses the orientation information to help track the first prop.

Kinect allows you to scan your own skateboard and use it in a game.

Patent 20100195867 is about tracking the user as he moves. Impulse has this in their patent claims. Microsoft’s claims include focusing on the user by ignoring non-target items from the background and some pretty smart algorithms to track the user’s movements:

[…] analyzing the observed depth image with a hand-identifying algorithm configured to identify hands on the human target; and increasing relative confidence of the exemplar pose if the exemplar pose more closely places hands in a same location as the hand-identifying algorithm […]

removing non-target background information from the observed depth image includes removing depth image information outside of a sphere surrounding the target

the source includes a depth camera

the source includes stereo cameras

Patent 20100278384 complements the above patent and is about estimating the human body’s pose.

Patent 20100195869, 20100197395, 20100197400, 20100197391, 20100197392 & 20100197399 are titled Visual Target Tracking and are related to tracking the human body movements. Claim from 20100195869:

A method of tracking a human target, the method comprising: representing the human target with a machine-readable model configured for adjustment into a plurality of different poses

One of the newer patents I came across yesterday is about multi-user tracking. This is also there somewhere in Impulse’s claims. Patent 20110175809

A processor-implemented method for tracking multiple people in a motion capture system, comprising the processor-implemented steps of: tracking at least one group which includes a first group, the first group comprises peoples’ bodies in a field of view of the motion capture system, the tracking includes detecting the peoples’ bodies in the field of view

Patent 20100306685 is having the user’s avatars on screen as feedback about the user’s physical movements. Claim from the application:

method for providing feedback to a user about a computing environment, the method comprising: recognizing, using an image-based capture device, a presence of a first user in a capture area; associating a first avatar with the first user and displaying the first avatar on a display screen; recognizing aspects of the first user within the capture area; and modifying an appearance of the first avatar to provide feedback to the first user about at least one of capabilities, features, rights or permissions of the first user in the computing environment.

Most of the Microsoft patent I’ve listed here are yet to approved. Whereas Impulse has approved patents. How that plays out will have to be seen. The patents I’ve listed are only those I could find, there are more. Kinect is a product developed using 3D camera trcking technology developed by PrimeSense. I have not looked into patent held by them or whether the patents were  transferred  to Microsoft.

Microsoft Sued Over Kinect For Infringing Seven Patents

Impulse Technology Ltd., an Ohio company has sued Microsoft in Delaware’s federal court alleging that the Kinect for Xbox 360 infringes on seven of its patents. Kinect for Xbox 360 is a motion sensing input device for the Xbox 360 gaming console that enables users to control and interact with the gaming console using only gestures and spoken commands. The suit alleges that Kinect infringes on Impulse Technology’s patents for technology for tracking and assessing movement skills in multidimensional space.

Kinect for Xbox 360

Kinect is based on software technology developed internally by Rare, a subsidiary of Microsoft Game Studios owned by Microsoft, and on range camera technology by Israeli developer PrimeSense. The Kinect sensor provides full-body 3D motion capture, facial recognition, and voice recognition capabilities.

The suit claims that Impulse Technology informed Microsoft of their patents in March 2011, however, Microsoft has still indulged in direct, inducing, and contributory infringement.’ The seven patents have been issued from 2001 to last year. In addition to Microsoft, a slew of other companies who make games designed for Kinect – including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Sega, and Konami – were named as defendants.

Impulse Technology is seeking a permanent injunction, damages, treble damages, interest, attorneys’ fees and costs. Microsoft hasn’t commented on the specific charges. The suit was filed on July 1, 2011 and was recently reported on Law360.

Kinect was first announced on June 1, 2009 at E3 2009 under the code name Project Natal and was launched in the US on November 4, 2010. After selling a total of 8 million units in its first 60 days, the Kinect holds the Guinness World Record of being the fastest selling consumer electronics device’.’

Lodsys Widens Its Net, Goes After More Application Developers

Let me make one thing clear right from the outset, like most other normal people, I hate money hungry scumbags. Hence, it is but obvious that I don’t hold patent trolls like Lodsys in very high regard. If the name Lodsys doesn’t ring a bell, then here’s a quick recap of what has happened so far.

Lodsys LLC owns four patents that were granted to it between 1999 and 2009. As far as I can tell, Lodsys has never manufactured any product. Creating documents describing some pretty mundane processes is as far as its innovative streak went. Nevertheless, since one of the patents (US 7,222,078) granted to Lodsys seemingly describes an in-app purchase mechanism, Apple, Google, as well as Microsoft, licensed the concerned patent from Lodsys. However, not being content with just wrangling money out of the big names, Lodsys decided to target the defenseless the individual app developers. It threatened and then sued several iOS and Android application developers who had implemented in-app purchase mechanisms into their apps by using the APIs provided by Apple and Google respectively. Thankfully, Apple stepped in to defend the developers who were being harassed unfairly. It first fired an opened letter, and then officially filed a motion to intervene. On the other hand, Google, the company that desperately tries to promote a do-gooder image, has done absolutely nothing so far to show that it gives a damn about the developers who are responsible for building the Android ecosystem.

TrollSadly, greed knows no bounds. It now appears that Lodsys is even targeting apps that don’t employ in-app purchase mechanisms. EpicForce Entertainment, the developer of iFighter 1945, which doesn’t use in-app purchase, received a notice from Lodsys demanding royalties. When EpicForce replied back explaining their position, this is what a certain Harry Snodgrass had to say on the behalf of Lodsys:

My name is Harry Snodgrass and I have been assigned your account. I would like to respond to your email dated July 4th, 2011 attached below. First let me state that Lodsys is interested in a positive dialog with the goal of a prompt and reasonable resolution to this matter.

In your email you refer to the following – “directed to systems and methods for providers of products and/or services to interact with users of those products and services to gather information from those users and transmit that information to the provider”.

The title of a patent, such as stated above, is a general description of the area the patent addresses to allow for more efficient searching of patents and their general subject matter. The patent we sent a claim chart for has a claim that is directed at eliciting from a user, through a user interface presented by the product or service, a perception of the user of the product or service.

The patent specification sets forth many different types of perceptions and how they may be elicited. One of those is through interactive services and transactions. Specifically, a perception that can be elicited is the desire of the user to indicate their desire to purchase something that is related to or complementary to the product or service.

In this specific case, the perception being elicited through the offer to the user to buy “Super Laser: The Alien Fighter” through the interface presented by iFighter 1945 is, Do you find our games valuable enough to buy another game we think you are interested in from us?. The elicited perception is returned to you (you are the vendor of both iFighter and Super Laser) through the revenue you receive from the app store for the purchase of the new game.

I trust that this has clarified the matter and that you now understand that we are not mistaken. We would like to enter into meaningful discussion with you about an appropriate license that is scaled to your use of our patented invention. We look forward to doing that as soon as possible.


Harry Snodgrass

Harry Snodgrass
Licensing Agent

In other words, being the douchebags that they are, Lodsys is now trying to take advantage of the ambiguous wording of the patent documents to extort money from developers who employ cross-promotion through More Gamesor similar techniques. James Thomson had earlier spotted a similar instance.

Just found out that one of the targeted developers isn’t even using in-app purchase – just a button that opens a link to the App Store.less than a minute ago via Twitter for Mac Favorite Retweet Reply

It is obvious that the current patent system is broken. The situation is spiraling out of control with pretty much everyone suing everyone else. The patent system might have been created with the idea of fostering and rewarding innovation, but these days it is doing exactly the reverse. Interestingly enough, IBM seems hell bent on patenting the art of patent trolling. They haven’t had much success yet, but I am rooting for them. If IBM is indeed granted the patent, then theoretically they might be able to use that to sue the hell out of patent trolls like Lodsys. Now, that would indeed be poetic.

Debian Offers Help in a Messy World of Software Patents

We have already seen how Microsoft is ramming its 18,000 patents into all Android device manufactures and making them pay for technologies that Microsoft does not deal with even remotely. Microsoft is nowhere in the Android game and this is a questionable action from Microsoft. Owning a lobby of patents to raise hue and cry on every other Android related technology is not really an ethical business practice. If you want to know how exactly Microsoft is earning more from Android than its own Windows Phone 7 platform, read  this  coverage  by  Joel Fernandes.


The world of software patents is getting ugly and the competition is extremely high. In such a world, it is extremely important to have a fair understanding of the technologies you are dealing with and the patent infringement it can cause. Generally, Open Source projects are not claimed against patent infringements because they are community efforts mostly and because they do not have the funding to pay hefty sums. However, prevention is always better than cure.

The Debian project has created an FAQ with some heavy legal aid that can give people an idea of patent liabilities pertaining to Community Distribution of Free and Open Source Software. It starts with the very basics of patents and explains the difference between patents and copyrights. Then, it goes on to explain infringements and the risk of patents to FOSS community projects and limitations of geographical boundaries on patents. If you are a developer working on a community project, you should absolutely know the risks and liabilities involved and  this FAQ  can offer good help to get started.

Tablet Edition of PowerPoint & The Future of Presentations

I’ve been slacking in my Microsoft patent coverage and a weekend of nothing interesting made me go back to the bookmarked applications. I tweeted about this when I came across it and believe that it is indeed the obvious future of boardroom presentations. Controlling PowerPoint or Keynote with phones is passé given that we could simply navigate through presentations with voice or gestures. A Kinect hack already exists leveraging the Xbox Kinect with a Windows PC allowing you to control presentation Minority Report style. Now, Microsoft has patented an implementation which signals addition of this in PowerPoint natively or through a plugin. Microsoft has applied for more than one patents on making presentations a lot more interactive. Manipulating visualizations with (finger) touch and hands-free (Kinect) control of presentations are explained. The two patent applications don’t complement each other but cater to different use cases.

The first application explains how a user can choose data and intuitively turn into charts using touch. The application further highlights ability to change graph types used to represent the data. The claims put into perspective how Microsoft sees presentations being done on a tablet (10Windows 8 touch screen device). The user will be able to circle a bar graph with his pointer finger and the damn thing will turn into a pie chart that’s pretty wicked. Move your finger over a bar graph and turn it into a line chart! One of the images shows circling a single bar on the chart and a pop-up with statistics about the particular bar shows up.



Windows 8 and Office on a tablet now sound a lot more exciting, right?

The second application is simply Kinect’s gesture brought into PowerPoint. While it seems straightforward, the applications details an implementation where the people in the room will be tagged as:

  • Primary user
  • Secondary user
  • Observer

The point in tagging users in the room is to allow collaboration. Some excerpts from the patent:

The gestures may control a variety of aspects of the gesture-based system. The gestures may control anything display on a screen, such as adding words to a document, scrolling down, or paging through a document, spanning a column in a spreadsheet, pivoting or rotating a three-dimensional figure, zoom in or out, or the like.

Any computing environment networked in the same gesture-based system may therefore process captured data from any number of capture devices also networked in the gesture-based system.

The gestures may incorporate audio commands or audio commands may supplement the user’s gestures. For example, the user may gesture to add a bullet to a document and then speak words that are then added to the document, following the bullet point. The system may recognize the combination of the gesture to add a bullet and the audio as a control to add the bullet and then write the spoken words to follow the bullet.


The application refers to an older patent I came across where a user’s customized gestures will be stored and available over a network thereby enabling a user to feel comfortable while interacting with the system.

Patent 1

Patent 2

Microsoft’s Secret Dual-Screen Phone Concept

For those who’ve been following  Microsoft  closely might recollect the translucent dual screen phone shown in the  awe-inspiring  Office Labs Vision 2019 video. Last year I came across a patent application where Microsoft described the concept . In another application I found months before the details on the phone shown in the Office Labs video showed a dual screen translucent remote that showed buttons based on which side was facing upwards.

These two patents bring me to a new application on dual screen phones. While I’m not optimistic that we will be seeing this particular hardware anytime soon, especially from Microsoft, it shows how a translucent dual screen phone with one side being able to change buttons dynamically can take us into the future. This application shows  possibilities  similar to the one presented by the one shown by Office Labs.

Here are some images from the patent application:

Having springs and hinges in a phone isn’t the best hardware design. Too many moving parts, screens and keyboards go loose & the phones are heavy.


Microsoft Asks Samsung To Pay $15 For Every Android Phone Sold

Samsung is the world’s No.2 handset manufacturer, which sold more than 19 million smartphones during the Q2 of 2011. The Samsung Galaxy S is the only Android smartphone which managed to cross the 10 million mark and its successor, the Samsung Galaxy S II have already sold 3 million units in just 55 days. This might be a great achievement for Samsung, but the company have already started getting into troubles, thanks to the Android Operating System.

samsung galaxy s ii

Microsoft has recently asked Samsung to pay $15 for every smartphone based on Google’s Android Operating System since Google has used a wide range of patents in Android OS, which are held by the Microsoft. Back in April last year, Microsoft has already signed a similar patent agreements with HTC, where the Taiwanese mobile phone gaint agreed to pay Microsoft in exchange for the use of the patented technology in its Android powered smartphones.

Samsung is expected to negotiate with Microsoft and ask them to lower the payment to about $10 in exchange for a deeper alliance with Microsoft for Windows Phone 7 devices. Samsung is also rumored to launched a new variant of its popular Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone based on the Windows Phone 7 OS. Microsoft is expected to get around $200 million a year, just from the sales of Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone.

Microsoft Loses Word Patent Battle

The Canadian company i4i has won its patent battle against software giant, Microsoft. On Thursday, the US Supreme Court upheld the lower courts’ decisions stating that Microsoft Word is an infringing product and has ordered Microsoft to pay over $290m in damages to i4i.

Steve Ballmer

In 2007, i4i filed a case against Microsoft, claiming that the Word applications violated patent rights it held to Custom XML technology. And in December 2009, the US Courts found Microsoft guilty and ordered Microsoft to pay over $290 million in damages to i4i and directed Microsoft to stop selling versions of Word from January 2010.

Though Microsoft stopped selling versions of Word as per courts’ orders, it challenged the verdict and appealed in the US Supreme Court in August 2010, stating that a jury should determine a patent’s validity by a “preponderance evidence” instead of “clear and convincing evidence” standard instructed by the judge.

However, the Supreme Court upheld the lower courts’ decisions. Microsoft said it wanted a new trial, but the justices ruled against Microsoft.

Loudon Owen, chairman of i4i, said: “Microsoft tried to gut the value of patents by introducing a lower standard for invalidating patents. It is now 100% clear that you can only invalidate a patent based on ‘clear and convincing’ evidence.”

Microsoft spokesman Kevin Kutz stated: “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,”

The patent No. 5,787,449, issued in July 1998