Microsoft hit for $290m as judge upholds Word patent ruling
Microsoft has suffered a $290 million setback as the US Supreme Court upheld a record jury verdict that found the Redmond giant had infringed a small Canadian company’s patent.
The justices unanimously agreed with earlier court rulings that found Microsoft had wilfully breached a patent of Toronto-based i4i in its Word software.
In a bid to overturn the earlier rulings – and the $290m fine – Microsoft had claimed a judge used the wrong level of evidence when they instructed the jury that decided on the award.
Microsoft had argued that a lower standard of proof involving a “preponderance of the evidence” would promote innovation and competition, and asked for a new trial.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the court rejected Microsoft’s contention.
The legal battle began in 2007 when i4i sued Microsoft claiming that the 2003 and 2007 versions of Word had infringed i4i’s patent relating to text manipulation software.
Microsoft continued to dispute those decisions through the courts, but has removed the contested features from its current software.