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01.18.11

Microsoft Troubled by the Patent Monster It Lobbied For

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 3:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Microsoft gets two new lessons about the harms of software patents, courtesy of i4i and Uniloc

THE i4i case marches on. In older news we find details about the referral to the highest court [1, 2] and in new reports we get some numbers, such as 171 companies supporting i4i’s side and over 100 companies supporting Microsoft’s side [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. These numbers do not mean so much and it should be left for people — not corporations — to decide on these matters. Microsoft booster Sharon Pian Chan has covered this too.

More than 100 companies signed a letter supporting software-development firm i4i in a patent case against Microsoft that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear.

The i4i case is mentioned here, in a press release that says “tech company i4i alleged that Microsoft infringed one of its software patents with certain versions of Microsoft Word. Microsoft argued that i4i’s underlying patent was invalid, and therefore Microsoft’s use of the technology did not constitute infringement.”

Let us hope that Microsoft will realise software patents are better off eliminated. They are a two-edged sword.

Adding to the pressure there is the patent troll who famously lives under the bridge in a van, where he is scheming to make money without lifting a finger. This patent troll, Uniloc [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], has just been declared victorious (again) in the case against Microsoft:

An appeals court sided with Uniloc in its patent-infringement lawsuit against Microsoft Corp.

A lower court ruled that Microsoft did not infringe a Uniloc patent designed to prevent software piracy. The appeals court reversed the lower court and ordered a new trial on damages.

This was also covered in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] and the press release names this an affirmation. According to Patently-O (strongly pro-patents), “The CAFC Rejects the 25 Percent Rule” in this case:

Uniloc v. Microsoft involves a host of issues, although one stands out as particularly noteworthy. While “passively tolerat[ing]” the 25 percent ‘rule of thumb’ (a method for calculating a reasonable royalty for purposes of infringement damages) in past cases, the CAFC held today that the rule “is a fundamentally flawed tool for determining a baseline royalty rate in a hypothetical negotiation,” thus precluding its use for damages calculations.

The bottom line is, the more cases Microsoft loses to such patent trolls, the more likely it is to reconsider its patent lobby.

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