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In Microsoft's Lawsuit Against Corel the Only Winner is the Lawyers

Also in the news today: The Last Of The MPEG-2 Patents Have Expired

MPEG MP3 Player



Summary: The outcome of the old Microsoft v Corel lawsuit reaffirms a trend; companies with deep pockets harass their competitors, knowing that the legal bills are more cumbersome to the defendants; there's a similar example today in Cisco v Arista Networks

THE Microsoft/Corel affairs have been covered here for over a decade. We have an entire category dedicated to that (mostly history, antitrust, and patent litigation).



"Microsoft -- being the patent thug that it is -- bullied Corel, possibly hoping to bury this former 'ally' once and for all."Several days ago, in connection to Microsoft's lawsuit, we saw a couple of updates, one from Law 360 and another from Watchtroll (there's probably a lot more out there by now). It's about software patents from the USPTO. Microsoft -- being the patent thug that it is -- bullied Corel, possibly hoping to bury this former 'ally' once and for all.

As Law 360 put it:

A California federal jury declined Microsoft’s request for more than $1 million and awarded it just $278,000 Tuesday in a suit over Corel Corp.’s infringement of patents related to its Office software, finding Corel had willfully infringed nine patents but hadn't learned of the infringement until Microsoft sued.


Watchtroll said:

Microsoft argued that Corel willfully infringed the ’828, ’036, ’237, ’140, ’532, and ’865 patents. The asserted Microsoft patents are directed to graphic user interfaces used in Microsoft products, such as Microsoft Office. Microsoft asserted that it has given its interfaces, including menus and toolbars, a distinctive look and feel, which Corel copied into the accused products, including WordPerfect X7. WordPerfect X7 even includes an option to use the product in the “Microsoft Word mode.”


It's hardly a win for Microsoft. But it's even more of a loss for Corel, whose pockets aren't as deep as Microsoft's. As one person put it, "$MSFT probably paid $5M in attorney’s fees and other expenses to get that $280K award."

"It's hardly a win for Microsoft. But it's even more of a loss for Corel, whose pockets aren't as deep as Microsoft's."So, in effect, Microsoft loses the case and only lawyers won. Corel is the party which suffers more because the legal fees are greater in relative terms.

What we see here is a large company crushing a small one in court; it has become so typical. Over the past couple of years we wrote a lot about Cisco's patent battles against Arista Networks. These battles profoundly rattled the latter's stock in spite of its innocence. ITC imposed sanctions in spite of PTAB's ruling and today we learn that the "Fed. Cir. Affirmed PTAB's Invalidation of a Cisco Patent Asserted Against Arista Networks: https://dlbjbjzgnk95t.cloudfront.net/1012000/1012522/cisco%20brief.pdf …"

"Will ITC officials (quite frankly as usual) facilitate the much larger company's bullying of a smaller rival that's formally deemed innocent?"It remains to be seen what happens next; will ITC honour this now, for a change? Will ITC officials (quite frankly as usual) facilitate the much larger company's bullying of a smaller rival that's formally deemed innocent?

Last but not least, let's ask ourselves who benefits the most from such SLAPP-esque actions which use patents rather than the classic copyright SLAPP (like Playboy's lawsuit against BoingBoing -- a lawsuit which has just been thrown out, albeit at great expense to BoingBoing, a relatively cash-strapped site which needed to hire lawyers).

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