USPTO Upholds i4i Patent in Microsoft Spat
Microsoft has suffered another loss in its pitched-battle patent dispute with i4i. On Wednesday, i4i announced that the patent at the heart of the dispute, No. 5,787,449, has been upheld by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office despite Microsoft’s best efforts to have it tossed.
“This is a very material step in our litigation against Microsoft. Put simply: i4i’s patent is clearly and unequivocally valid,” i4i chairman Loudon Owen said in a statement. “Even though Microsoft attacked i4i’s patent claims with its full arsenal, the Patent Office agreed with i4i and confirmed the validity of our ’449 patent.”
The XML technology covered by the patent might be “obscure,” as Microsoft (MSFT) has argued, but that doesn’t mean it’s not patentable. This being the case, Microsoft would seem to be liable for its transgression: Incorporating i4i’s “obscure” patented technology into Word 2003 and Word 2007.
A tough break for Microsoft, which was ordered last year to pay i4i $200 million for doing so.
The company’s only recourse now it seems is to appeal to the Supreme Court, something it appears to be considering, according to Director of Public Affairs Kevin Kutz. Said Kutz: “We are disappointed, but there still remain important matters of patent law at stake, and we are considering our options to get them addressed, including a petition to the Supreme Court.”