Jury orders Microsoft to pay $200 million in patent dispute

A Texas court rules in favor of i4i in the second patent verdict to go against Microsoft in as many months

A jury in Texas has ordered Microsoft to pay a Toronto software company US$200 million for patent infringement involving several of its software products, Microsoft confirmed Thursday.

The verdict came Wednesday after an eight-day jury trial in a U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

I4i, which creates collaborative authoring and document-management software, originally filed the case in March 2007, claiming Microsoft willfully infringed on patented technology in Microsoft Office Word 2003, Word 2007, .NET Framework and Windows Vista software. I4i was issued the patent -- U.S. Patent No. 5,787,499 -- in 1998.

The technology that the court said infringes on the i4i patent enables custom XML tagging in Word 2003 and Word 2007, used mainly for people creating and modifying templates for Word documents.

In a statement, Microsoft said it is "disappointed" with the jury's verdict and will appeal.

"We believe the evidence clearly demonstrated that we do not infringe and that the i4i patent is invalid," the company said via e-mail.

"We believe this award of damages is legally and factually unsupported, so we will ask the court to overturn the verdict."

I4i could not immediately be reached for comment. However in published reports, i4i President Karen Heater said the company felt "vindicated" about the verdict.

The ruling is the second patent ruling to go against Microsoft in as many months.

In April Microsoft was ordered to pay $388 million to Uniloc, a company that makes anti-piracy tools.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service
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