The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Microsoft s appeal in its long-running patent-infringement suit with Canadian firm i4i.
That renders Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) vulnerable to the nearly $300 million judgment delivered by the lower courts.
Chief Justice John Roberts, apparently an owner of Microsoft stock, recused himself from hearing the April arguments in the case. Of the remaining eight court members, Microsoft needed to win five votes to succeed in its appeal, which sought to overturn earlier rulings that Word 2003 and 2007 violated i4i s rights for custom XML.
As it turned out, the justices voted unanimously in favor of the U.S. Appeals Court's earlier ruling, in the process rejecting the core argument of Microsoft s legal counsel, which argued that the overwhelming standard of evidence needed to invalidate patents made it too difficult for companies to beat back frivolous patent-infringement suits.
"This case raised an important issue of law which the Supreme Court itself had questioned in an earlier decision and which we believed needed resolution," a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in a June 9 email to eWEEK. "While the outcome is not what we had hoped for, we will continue to advocate for changes to the law that will prevent abuse of the patent system and protect inventors who hold patents representing true innovation."
Microsoft first asked the Supreme Court to hear its appeal in August, seeking to overturn earlier rulings concerning i4i's patents. The previous April, a federal appeals court had rejected Microsoft's request for a multiple-judge review of the lawsuit, which resulted in that multimillion-dollar judgment.
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