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System threatened, Redmond claims

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Microsoft yesterday called for reform of the US patent system, claiming that the long-term health of the system is threatened both by a flood of patent applications and an "explosion of sometimes-abusive litigation". That's how MS general counsel Brad Smith put it during a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC.

Smith outlined proposals to reduce "abusive" patent litigation, create "more consistency among international patent systems [and] eliminate patent filing fees for individual inventors and small firms", the Seattle Post Intelligencer reports. He also called for more consistent funding for the US Patent and Trademark Office leading to "more quality in the patent process".

Microsoft is an energetic filer of patents, submitting more than 3,000 this year. It is an equally energetic patent defendant, fending off 35 to 40 patent lawsuits at any given time at a cost of $100m a year, according to Smith.

Perhaps the most notorious patent dispute involving Redmond is its spat with Eolas regarding "a method of opening third party applications within a browser".

The case saw Microsoft slapped with a $565m penalty for allegedly infringing an Eolas patent. However, the US Court of Appeals last week sent the case back for a new trial. A delighted Redmond says it will "now be able to tell the jury the whole story of how this technology was developed and to present evidence that shows that Eolas did not invent this technology, and that it was developed by others". ®

Related stories

Appeals court hits rewind in Microsoft Eolas case
MS Eolas appeal begins
Microsoft wins another Eolas web patent battle
Eolas' web patent nullified
US Patent Office will review Eolas claim
Microsoft fined $520m for infringing patents

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