Microsoft prevails in Office Smart Tag patent suit

Microsoft Corp. has won a patent lawsuit brought against it by Hyperphrase Technologies LLC and Hyperphrase Inc. of Madison, Wisconsin. The case, due to go to trial in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on Oct. 6, was decided by summary judgment Wednesday.

Hyperphrase had claimed that the Smart Tags function in Microsoft's Office XP desktop productivity software infringed on three of its patents, but on Wednesday Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in summary judgment that Microsoft's Smart Tags do not infringe Hyperphrase's patents because they do not operate in the same way as the inventions claimed by Hyperphrase, Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake said in an e-mail.

In June 2000, Hyperphrase filed a patent entitled "Tiered and content based database searching," in which it described a method for efficient database searching, including examining a data reference and related information to identify content characteristics and non-content characteristics of the data reference.

Microsoft's Smart Tags technology allows actions such as sending an e-mail or linking to a Web site to be associated with certain content in an electronic document.

The company has been successful in defending itself in more than a dozen patent claims of this type in the past three years, Drake said.

Patent disputes have not always gone Microsoft's way, however. Last month, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ordered Microsoft to pay the University of California and Eolas Technologies Inc. damages of US$520.6 million because its Web browser infringed on one of their patents.

Court records show that the Hyperphrase case, filed in November 2002, ended with a flurry of filings Wednesday, including one to exclude untimely expert opinion.

This was not the first occasion in the proceedings that timing had become a contentious issue: In June, the parties had been given a deadline of midnight on June 25 to file documents via the court's electronic filing system.

Microsoft's legal team filed its summary judgment motion four minutes and 27 seconds after midnight, and other documents 72 minutes after the deadline, prompting Magistrate Judge Stephen Crocker, to file an opinion describing the move, tongue firmly in cheek, as "a scandalous affront to this court's deadlines." Crocker's sarcasm was prompted by the filing of a motion by nine of Hyperphrase's lawyers to strike Microsoft's late motion as untimely.

Crocker's reaction was scathing.

"Wounded though this court may be by Microsoft's four minute and twenty-seven second dereliction of duty, it will transcend the affront and forgive the tardiness. Indeed, to demonstrate the even-handedness of its magnanimity, the court will allow Hyperphrase on some future occasion in this case to e-file a motion four minutes and thirty seconds late, with supporting documents to follow up to seventy-two minutes later," he wrote in an opinion entered into the record July 1.

"Having spent more than that amount of time on Hyperphrase's motion, it is now time to move on to the other Gordian problems confronting this court. Plaintiff's motion to strike is denied," he concluded.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?