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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

May 11, 2010 at 10:41 AM

U.S. Patent Office will confirm patent in $290M lawsuit against Microsoft

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office intends to re-affirm a patent that has already resulted in permanent changes to Microsoft Word and a $290 million damage award against Microsoft for software infringement.

i4i, the company that sued Microsoft, announced Tuesday that the patent office would confirm the validity of its patent by issuing a Notice of Intent to Issue Ex-Parte Reexamination Certificate on April 28.

“We are disappointed, but there still remain important matters of patent law at stake,” Microsoft spokesman Kevin Kutz said in a statement. “We are considering our options to get them addressed, including a petition to the Supreme Court.”

“i4i’s patent is clearly and unequivocally valid,” i4i Chairman Loudon Owen said in a statement. “Even though Microsoft attacked i4i’s patent claims with its full arsenal, the Patent Office agreed with i4i and confirmed the validity of our ‘449 patent.”

Toronto-based i4i sued Microsoft for infringing on its patent with an XML editing feature in Microsoft Word.

A federal jury in Texas found in May that Microsoft had infringed on i4i’s patent and awarded i4i $200 million. Judge Leonard Davis in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas affirmed the decision in the case in August, and increased the damage award to $290 million.

Microsoft appealed to the U.S. federal Court of Appeals, and a three-judge panel denied the appeal in December. The company called the damage award the largest ever sustained in an appeal of a patent case.

In January, Microsoft removed the feature from Word to comply with a court injunction. The company also requested an en banc review, which would have involved an 11-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. That review was denied in April.

Although the patent office could change its decision, it is most likely to follow through and issue the certificate confirming i4i’s patent.

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