updated 04:40 pm EDT, Mon March 21, 2011
Solicitor General files amicus brief
Although the Supreme Court has yet to hear formal arguments in the patent infringement dispute between Microsoft and Canadian developer i4i, the government appears to be supporting earlier rulings against the Redmond-based software giant. Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal has filed an amicus brief that backs the lower court's decision.
The brief essentially serves as the official stance of the US Patent and Trademark Office, which supports the original US Court of Appeal decision that also opposes the appeal. Separate amicus briefs supporting i4i were submitted by several large companies including DuPont, GE and Johnson & Johnson.
Microsoft is not without its backers, which include tech powerhouses Google and Apple, along with Walmart and Toyota. The software maker initially was ordered to pay $290 million to i4i and remove the infringing features from Word, however its legal team maintains that an earlier court ruling should have been based on "clear and convincing evidence" rather than a "preponderance of evidence."
The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case in April. The ruling is said to have significant implications in patent litigation, as a win by Microsoft may serve to empower other companies that choose to challenge the validity of patents held by smaller companies. [via The Seattle Times]