Microsoft Denied Appeal in i4i Word Patent Case


On Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a ruling handed down last August by Judge Leonard Davis of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The Court of Appeals is still considering a petition by Microsoft for en banc review, but today's ruling is being hailed by i4i as evidence of the validity of its case.

"This case is very far advanced, and we're going to continue to enforce our property rights," said Loudon Owen, Chairman of i4i, in an interview Wednesday.

It's the latest victory for i4i, which last May won a $200 million judgment against Microsoft pertaining to technology built into Word 2007 and Office 2007 that's used to customize XML code. The court has slapped Microsoft with an additional $90 million in fines after ruling that Microsoft willfully infringed on i4i's patent.

Specifically, i4i's patent describes a way to manipulate the architecture and content of a document, particularly for data representation and transformation, by removing dependency on document-encoding technology.

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Microsoft has tried a number of tactics to get the court to reconsider its ruling, initially claiming that an injunction on Word sales would "inflict irreparable harm" on its business and that of its partners, and later claiming that i4i, as a "non-practicing patent owner", isn't eligible to sue for damages.

To stave off a Jan. 11 court ordered injunction, Microsoft in January released a patch that removes the infringing custom XML code from Word and Office, but it's likely to continue exploring its legal options.

While the prospect of a settlement with Microsoft is a "tantalizing thought," Owen said such a scenario is unlikely. "We're not thinking about any form of settlement. Our goal is to build a business and to maintain and enhance our position in the market," he said.