/ April 17, 2009

Microsoft To Pay Out $388M in Damages for Patent Infringement

Microsoft, the largest software business world-wide, lost a patent infringement case when an Australian inventor, Ric Richardson, successfully claimed that his anti-piracy software was used within Windows XP and office software.

The patent relates to Uniloc’s software registration system that allows developers to try-before-you-buy versions of their products. Richards developed the technology after working as a sound equipment programmer. He found that many musicians often used pirated copies of extensive software as there was no way to try it out before purchasing it.

A jury in Rhode Island ruled that Microsoft had “willfully and intentionally” infringed on Richardson’s patent when it launched programs using similar software for its Windows XP and Office Products in the late 1990s.
Richardson, founder of Uniloc,  was awarded the fifth highest damages award in U.S. patent history. Both companies must now wait for the judge’s decision on the payout. The judge could triple the damages as the infringement was deemed willful.
Uniloc began its case against the software giant in 2003 arguing that Microsoft has made billions of dollars as a result of the infringement.
Microsoft fought back saying that it had developed its own technology. David Bowermaster, Microsoft spokesman, said: “We believe that we did not infringe, that the patent is invalid and that this award of damages is legally and functionally unsupported. We will ask the court to overturn the verdict.” 

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