U.S. backs I4i in patent case against Microsoft

Federal government has joined a chorus of other parties supporting I4i in its ongoing patent infringement suit against Microsoft as the case gets ready to heard by the Supreme Court.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

I4i has won the support of the U.S. government as its patent infringement case against Microsoft winds it way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Daniel Terdiman/CNET

The case stems from a lawsuit filed by I4i in 2007 in which it claimed that Microsoft had violated one of I4i's patents by including a custom XML feature in Microsoft Word. Though Microsoft lost on both the initial verdict and the appeal, the software giant filed another appeal last year, this time with the Supreme Court, which agreed last November to hear the case.

I4i, a small Canadian company, has received strong support in the form of 22 different amicus briefs filed with the Supreme Court, the latest coming from the U.S. government itself, specifically from the U.S. Solicitor General (PDF). These briefs urge the court to uphold the decisions of the lower courts in favor of I4i. Joining the U.S. government in support of I4i are a range of parties, including corporations, universities, venture capitalists, and former U.S. Patent Office commissioners.

"The amicus briefs underscore the importance of the case and the extremely damaging consequences if the law is changed and there is a ruling to overturn the lower court's correct decision in favor of new law changes which Microsoft proposes," said I4i Chairman Loudon Owen in a statement.

On its end, Microsoft sees its appeal to the highest court in the land as part of an overall effort to change the way that patents are legislated. Backing Microsoft's appeal are a slew of other tech giants, including Apple, Intel, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Hewlett-Packard.

The Supreme Court will start to hear the case on April 18 with a decision expected by the end of June.