Supreme Court to hear Microsoft appeal

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Microsoft's appeal in a patent case that forced changes in the company's Word software and could cost it $300 million.

Microsoft, fighting a verdict won by closely held I4i, says the federal appeals court that handles patent cases is making it too hard for those accused of infringement to argue that a patent never should have been issued and is invalid.

The software giant has support in its appeal from more than a dozen publicly traded companies, including Apple and Google. Apple told the justices that the patent system "is tilting out of balance," giving disproportionate power to people who secure patents of questionable legitimacy.

The award stood as the largest ever upheld by an appeals court in a patent case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington concluded that Microsoft didn't prove that the disputed patent was based on technology that was already in the marketplace.

The case concerns a method developed by I4i for editing documents using XML, which tells the computer how text should appear. In its 2007 lawsuit, I4i accused Microsoft of incorporating the invention into Word.

Microsoft argued in defense that I4i had included its innovation in a product it sold to a client more than a year before it filed its patent application. That prior use would have rendered the invention ineligible for patenting under federal law.

- Bloomberg News


Google-backed satellite firm raises $1.2 billion

O3b Networks, a privately held satellite Internet firm backed by Google and others, said Monday it has raised a total of $1.2 billion.

O3b, founded in 2007 and managed from Englewood, Colo., is building global satellite-based Internet technology for telecommunications companies serving emerging markets. The company said financing comes from a mix of existing and new investors. Among the existing investors are Google, North Bridge Venture Partners and Allen & Co. New investors include the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Sofina and Satya Capital.

O3b stands for "Other 3 billion," a reference to the number of people who do not have adequate access to broadband Internet access.

- Associated Press

Also in Business

l Toyota to fix Priuses: Toyota Motor will pay to fix about 378,000 Prius models in the United States for a coolant pump glitch that could cause the top-selling hybrid to overheat and lose power, the automaker said Monday. The repair campaign for Prius models built from 2004 to 2007 was detailed in a notice for Toyota's U.S. dealers.

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