Microsoft Loses $290 Million Patent Appeal, Fails to Shake Up U.S. Patent System

Pulkit Chandna

Microsoft’s protracted patent battle with 30-man strong Canadian company i4i is finally over. The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously turned down Microsoft’s appeal against a lower-court ruling ordering it to pay $290 million in damages for infringing one of i4i’s XML-related patents with certain versions of its popular word processing software.

One way or the other, the outcome was always going to be historical as a win for Microsoft would have completely changed the US patent system. This is because Microsoft had argued for the lowering of the current “clear and convincing” standard of proof for patent invalidity arguments. Instead, the software titan wanted the court to adopt a lower “preponderance of the evidence” standard of proof in such matters.

Microsoft had the backing of such tech luminaries as Apple, Google and Yahoo in this case, while the U.S. government was i4i’s most notable supporter.

"Microsoft tried to gut the value of patents by introducing a lower standard for invalidating patents," i4i’s chairman Loudon Owen said in a statement.  "This is one of the most significant business cases the court has decided in decades.”

"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,” reads a statement issued by Microsoft.

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