U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Microsoft Patent Case

Microsoft was accused by i4i of infringing on a 1998 XML patent in its Word 2003 and Word 2007 programs. Word uses XML, or Extensible Markup Language, to open .XML, .DOCX, and .DOCM files.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the case pitting the US software giant against Toronto-based i4i Inc during its winter session and to deliver a ruling before the end of June next year.

Microsoft was accused by i4i of infringing on a 1998 XML patent in its Word 2003 and Word 2007 programs. Word uses XML, or Extensible Markup Language, to open .XML, .DOCX, and .DOCM files.

In December, a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict and lower court ruling in the case filed against Microsoft by i4i over its Word program.

"We are gratified by the court's decision," said David Howard, Microsoft corporate vice president and deputy general counsel for litigation. "It's a clear affirmation that the issues raised in this case are critical to the integrity of our patent system.

A US District Court judge in Texas last year upheld both a jury ruling that Microsoft's Word program violates an XML patent held by i4i and the award of more than $290 million in damages and interest. The judge also issued an injunction that would ban Microsoft from selling versions of Word that infringe on the patented technology, which Microsoft has dismissed as a "little-used feature."

Microsoft appealed but the three-judge U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled against the software powerhouse.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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