The US Supreme Court has ended a five-year legal battle between tech titan Microsoft and i4i Incorporated, a small Toronto-based tech firm.
Microsoft has been ordered to pay US$290 million in damages after appealing to the United States' top court with an attempt to modify US patent laws by lowering the burden of proof for defendants in infringement cases, the CBC reports.
The legal battle dates back to 2007, when i4i Incorporated filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft. At issue was Microsoft's use of code to open XML documents in the company's Word 2003 and 2007 software — code to which i4i holds the patent.
In May 2009, a federal jury awarded i4i their victory, ordering Microsoft to pay the firm $200 million in damages, Bloomberg reported. Microsoft appealed the verdict, and was slapped with a heavier fee by a Texas judge, who also ordered the corporation to stop selling versions of Microsoft Word with the patent-infringing code.
In an interview with Digital Journal following the Judge's ruling, i4i chairman Loudon Owen said, "We feel vindicated... If Microsoft doesn’t believe the feature it offered is integral to its customers, why did they release it in the first place?"
Microsoft again appealed the verdict, this time to the Supreme Court, in 2010. The Court heard the two sides' arguments, but ultimately upheld the suit.
i4i Incorporated is a small firm with fewer than 100 employees that is headquarted in Toronto. According to their website, the firm deals with many successful pharmaceutical companies, including Bayer.