Los Angeles – The United States Supreme Court upheld a 2009 decision that Microsoft must pay $290 million in damages in a patent infringement case involving its Word software technology. In doing so, the court upheld the current clear and convincing standard for invalidating patents.
In 2009, Microsoft was found guilty of infringing on patents of i4i, Inc.., a decision which it appealed. The Toronto-based i4i is a world leader in the design and development of collaborative content solutions and technologies. i4i currently holds the patent for building a method of processing custom XML, which a jury found Microsoft guilty of infringing on with its 2003 and later versions of Word.
As we reported in an earlier Microsoft vs. i4i Patent Lawsuit May Rattle Tech Industry blog post on April 21, Microsoft was seeking to change the laws for invalidating patents. Typically, in order to invalidate a competitor’s patent, clear and convincing evidence must be proved, a standard that makes it difficult to invalidate patents once they are granted. Instead, Microsoft and others were pushing for the less formidable “preponderance of the evidence” standard, claiming that it would level the playing field for both parties in a patent infringement case.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, the high court did not agree with its argument for the new standard. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomeyer argued that the current stricter standard has been upheld by Congress for years and has never been under consideration for change. She stated, “any recalibration of the standard of proof remains in its hands.”