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The patent row between Redmond and Canadian firm i4i has been a patent disaster for the former. Microsoft’s remaining hopes now rest on the U.S. Supreme Court, which in November, 2010 granted Microsoft’s petition for writ of certiorari for review of the case. But i4i, which has been winning (feel free to replace with the recent neologism “bi-winning”) pretty much all the battles in this patent war, once again seems assured of victory. According to the Canadian company, 22 amicus (or friend-of-the-court) briefs , including one by the United States government, have been filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in its support.
The government wants the Supreme Court to affirm the decision of the court of appeals and two lower courts: "By allowing a lay jury to second-guess the PTO's judgment even in close cases, the preponderance standard would diminish the expected value of patents and would reduce future inventors' incentives to innovate and to disclose their inventions to the public."
The patent infringement case between the two companies dates back to March, 2007, when i4i sued Microsoft for willful infringement, alleging that certain features in Word violate its United States Patent 5,787,449 ('449). In August, 2009, after a jury found Microsoft guilty of infringing i4i’s patents earlier that year, Judge Leonard Davis awarded i4i $290 million in damages and a permanent injunction.
"Patent protection and the practical ability to enforce a patent are the lifeblood of innovation. Inventions are publicly disclosed in exchange for patent rights and protection. This social contract has enabled development of the most innovative country in history,” said Loudon Owen, Chairman of i4i.
“Now the very individuals, organizations and companies that create new jobs are facing an unprecedented change in the law and the sudden disruption and devaluation of the patent system. i4i's position, which is that patent owners should to be able to rely on established patent law, has received a groundswell of diverse support from the United States government itself as well as from an enormous range of other leaders, inventors, investors and experts."
The Supreme Court is set to hear oral argument on April 18, 2011, with a final decision expected sometime during late June.