Saturday, June 17, 2006

Microsoft loses appeal in case of patent infringement involving Office

On June 14, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) affirmed a verdict that Microsoft's Office software infringed on a patent held by Carlos Armando Amado. In June 2005, an Orange County, Calif., jury awarded Amado $6.1 million, ruling that Microsoft's method of linking its Access database and Excel spreadsheet infringed on Amado's technology.

"This ruling signals the validity of the patent and confirms Microsoft's liability of infringement on Mr. Amado's software program," Vince Belusko, a Morrison & Foerster partner, said in a statement. A Microsoft representative did not immediately have a comment to CNET.

Morrison & Foerster said it is hoping that the federal court will award Amado further damages for continuing infringement, out of an escrow account that now has more than $65 million in it.

Since the jury verdict last year, Microsoft has altered Office, alerting businesses back in January, 2006 that they will need to upgrade to the modified

Given Microsoft's modification of Office, in response to the Amado case, the argument of Microsoft in the z4 case is interesting. From Patently-O, discussing the case z4 Technologies, Inc. v. Microsoft (E.D.Texas 2006):

Microsoft argued that it would be really hard to redesign even a small component of Microsoft office. From what I have heard about the complicated code noodle, that assertion must be true. Thus, the court found that the balance of the hardships weigh in favor of Microsoft.

Separately, of the eBay injunction issue, from an earlier IPBiz post:

It's a curious solution to issues of patent reform. Rather than solving the direct upstream problem (get the patent examination done right in the first place), one relaxes the downstream rules, so the picture gets fuzzier. Maybe there will be an injunction, maybe there won't be. Kinda depends on what I think about the patent (although I've determined it valid, it might be like a business method or a law of nature, so I'll discount it a bit) and the addiction the public has developed to the infringing product (if there's lots of infringing product, the public interest might be to continue the use, so I'll weight that factor for the infringer because he's been a very successful infringer). And the patentee does get money damages. Of course, patentee didn't get to pick who developed his invention, or how it developed, but patentee should be grateful because someone developed it.

I had written upon injunctions based upon infringement of one element of a multielement product.

See also Professor Epstein's commentary.

See also a more complete discussion of Continental Paper.

[IPBiz post 1667]


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