Friday, October 27, 2006

Supreme Court grants cert on Microsoft/AT&T case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 27 agreed to consider an appeal by software maker Microsoft Corp. in a dispute over whether the company should be liable for damages overseas for infringing a software patent owned by AT&T Inc.

The issue is the "golden disk" and royalties based on the foreign manufacture and sale of infringing software products.

An earlier IPBiz post:

Relevant to IBM and patent reform, David Berlind wrote of the IBM suit against Amazon:

For years, there have been a handful of companies trying to figure out how to erect a toll booth on the Web, if not the Internet altogether. In other words, they've been looking for some way to ensure that the Internet or some portion thereof can't work unless they get to collect a royalty on the majority of the Internet's traffic. Now, if a patent infringement suit filed by IBM against holds up in court, Big Blue may have finally found a way to collar the Web (or most of it). It may be a decade before we know the answer.

Whether it was simply the prescience of IBM's engineers right around the time that the Web was born, or just a stroke of serendipity (perhaps connected with IBM's original association with the Prodigy online service), IBM appears to have a patent for online advertising. And now, nearly a decade and a half after IBM filed for the patent, and long after the online advertising environment has matured to a point that it's generating (in aggregate) billions of dollars for everybody from small businesses to Google, IBM's patent infringement suit against Amazon is the equivalent of Big Blue saying "Excuse me everyone, we've got something very important to say." Very important indeed if you own or operate a Web site with advertisements on it.


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