(CN) – The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to review a $290 million fine against Microsoft and an order barring it from selling versions of Word that infringe on i4i’s patents. The closely watched patent dispute pits the software giant against a small Canadian technology company.
Without comment, the justices said they would consider Microsoft’s appeal after lower courts found the company had infringed on i4i’s patents for XML, or Extensible Markup Language, which allows computers to interpret and display text.
Microsoft insisted the patent wasn’t valid, but a federal judge in Texas cited an email sent by a member of Microsoft’s XML for Word development team, which notes, “We saw [i4i’s products] some time ago and met its creators. Word 11 will make it obsolete.”
In his ruling for i4i last August, U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis fined Microsoft $290 million and ordered it stop selling Word programs that can open custom XML files in the United States.
Microsoft now sells versions of Word that don’t contain the infringing technology.
The Federal Circuit rejected Microsoft’s appeal and later refused to rehear the case before an 11-judge panel, leaving the nation’s highest court as Microsoft’s sole venue for appeal.
The Supreme Court has been asked to decide whether a challenger must prove that a patent is invalid by “clear and convincing evidence,” as the Federal Circuit has ruled, rather than by a mere “preponderance of the evidence.”
The Toronto-based i4i, which has about 30 employees, filed a patent for a “customized XML” tool in 1998.
Chief Justice John Roberts has recused himself from the case.
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