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Gov Agencies Back i4i over Microsoft in Patent Case

i4i LLP, which is currently embroiled in a patent infringement case against Microsoft at the U.S. Supreme Court level, has obtained some significant supporters.

According to an i4i announcement on Friday, the company has filed 22 amicus ("friend of the court") briefs from various private and public companies and organizations, including agencies within the U.S. government, that all oppose Microsoft's appeal to lower the burden of proof in patent challenges.

The 33-page March amicus filing (PDF) by attorneys at the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office simply concludes that "the decision of the court of appeals [in the i4i v. Microsoft case] should be affirmed."

Microsoft lost on appeal in a lower court after a jury awarded i4i more than $290 million in damages in a case involving i4i's custom XML technology. i4i's patent was considered to have been "willfully infringed" in older versions of Microsoft Word.

Microsoft is currently arguing at the Supreme Court that the standard of proof is too high to disprove a patent in cases where the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lacked prior-art information. The company has its own supporters for that position, including amicus-brief backing from Apple, Google, GM, Verizon and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, among others.

Microsoft also recently backed Congressional efforts aiming at revising U.S. patent laws. Senate Bill S.23, or the America Invents Act, was passed by the Senate last week, with deliberations in the House still pending.

i4i provides links to all 22 amicus-brief filers here. Seven former military officers also weighed in against revising the standard of proof in patent disputes. That brief (PDF) concluded that "to lower the standard [of proof in patent cases] risks military preparedness and morale."

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case on April 18, with a decision expected by the end of June.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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