Microsoft’s Patent Predicament

In the latest round of court battles among technology giants, a federal appeals court reinstated a jury verdict that Microsoft’s antipiracy product activation system infringed a patent held by Uniloc Singapore Private Ltd. and Uniloc U.S.A. Irvine-based Uniloc, which creates software that stops illegal installation of software on multiple computers, targeted Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system and some Office programs in its lawsuit.  In 2009, a jury awarded $388 million in compensation due to Uniloc since 2003—a verdict later thrown out by a trial judge.  Although the federal appeals court restored the original verdict, it found the monetary award “fundamentally tainted by the use of legally inadequate methodology,” and the court entitled Microsoft to a new trial on damages.  This decision marks another blow against Microsoft in its history of antitrust and intellectual property legal battles.

It appears Microsoft and its ilk can’t stay out of court; in related intellectual property news, a firm managed by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen has pulled out the heavy artillery against several high-profile technology companies.  Interval Licensing LLC resubmitted its patent infringement complaint to include specific allegations against AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo, and YouTube.  The complaint alleges the companies infringed patents on technology developed at Allen’s 10-years’ defunct company.  Allegedly infringing products include Apple iTunes, Apple TV, Google search, Gmail, Google Books, and Google Maps.

The implicated technology companies are responding to the allegations with strong words.  A Facebook spokesperson dismissed the suit as “completely without merit” and vowed to vigorously fight it.  Additionally, a Netflix spokesperson called Interval Licensing LLC a “patent troll” and said lawsuits like these “are little more than legal extortion.”

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