Feeds

Court must reconsider Microsoft Excel patent damages

Show me the reason, and we'll show you the money

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A US appeals court has ordered a reconsideration of the damages that Microsoft must pay to a Guatemalan inventor who successfully sued it for patent infringement.

Carlos Armando Amado won a case in 2006 against the software giant. The court accepted that Microsoft had infringed a patent he held for software that connects Microsoft's Excel software with a database.

Amado had been awarded four cents for every copy of the software sold, but on appeal that was increased to 12 cents per copy. Amado asked for $2 per copy.

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has now said the 12 cents damages awarded by the District Court in the first appeal must be reconsidered. The Court expressed no view as to what the damages should be, but said that the 12 cents figure had not been justified by the lower Court.

Both Microsoft and Amado had appealed, Microsoft demanding a return to the four cents royalty rate, Amado seeking $2 per copy of the software sold.

The four cents rate had been applied to Microsoft's activity before the original court judgment against it. The dispute is now over what royalty should be paid for copies sold after the verdict, when Microsoft knew that it was deemed to be infringing Amado's patent.

Microsoft was given the Court's permission to continue to sell its software on condition of paying a Court-set royalty.

"The jury’s award of $0.04 per unit was based on Microsoft’s infringing conduct that took place prior to the verdict," said Circuit Judge Linn in the ruling. "There is a fundamental difference, however, between a reasonable royalty for pre-verdict infringement and damages for post-verdict infringement."

"Prior to judgment, liability for infringement, as well as the validity of the patent, is uncertain, and damages are determined in the context of that uncertainty. Once a judgment of validity and infringement has been entered, however, the calculus is markedly different because different economic factors are involved," said the ruling.

The Court of Appeals said it could not judge whether or not the District Court had properly exercised its discretion because it had not explained why it awarded royalties of 12 cents.

It asked the District Court to reconsider what the correct royalty should be.

Inventor Amado said in earlier court hearings that he had developed the application in 1990 and approached Microsoft in 1992, when the company declined to buy his program. Amado went on to patent the software.

He claimed that a year later Microsoft came out with a very similar application in its 1995 Office software programs. Amado sued in 2003, claiming around $500m in damages for 10 claims. Only one was upheld, though, and he was awarded $8.96m in damages for software sold up to the resolution of the court case.

The current argument surrounds royalties for software sold since then.

See: The ruling (19-page / 69KB PDF)

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
UNIX greybeards threaten Debian fork over systemd plan
'Veteran Unix Admins' fear desktop emphasis is betraying open source
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'
Open-source 'love' fairly runneth over at cloud event
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.