Microsoft’s Patent Case Enters Supreme Court

Microsoft patent caseMicrosoft has challenged a patent infringement case that it had previously lost in the lower courts versus i4i Limited Partnership.  The case awarded $290 million to the Canadian base company for patents on the process for editing text documents.  Microsoft’s flagship office application, Microsoft Word, allegedly infringes on i4i’s patent claims.

Microsoft claims that the patent awarded to i4i is invalid and the decision should be reversed.  The court’s ruling against Microsoft was based on a 1934 patent infringement case that set a precedent of requiring “clear and convincing evidence” to declare a patent invalid.  Microsoft’s lawyers feel that this is a heightened standard, and should only require a “preponderance of evidence,”  or just proving the patent is more likely to be invalid than not.

Seth P. Waxman, a lawyer representing i4i, defended the heightened standard in place citing that it should not be so easy to overturn a government bestowed property right, like a patent.

Presiding justices seemed to favor i4i early in the discussions, though they are still without a decision and were increasingly frustrated by the end of the arguments.  With two almost equally valid debates and an important policy with vast economic consequences in question, finding the right tool to declare the deserving victor may prove very difficult.