Judge tosses out patent infringement verdict against Microsoft
Uniloc's $388m damages turn to dust
Microsoft has won an appeal against a $388m patent infringement jury verdict meted out to the company in April, following a lawsuit brought by anti-piracy software maker Uniloc.
The long-running legal spat was originally brought by Uniloc USA and its Singapore-based parent company in 2003, with the firm alleging Microsoft had infringed its patented technology for its software activation methods.
Yesterday US district judge William Smith in Providence, Rhode Island overruled the jury’s verdict.
Smith said in his order that the jury “lacked a grasp of the issues before it and reached a finding without a legally sufficient basis”.
The $388m damages award Microsoft had been ordered to Pay Uniloc was one of the largest on record in legal disputes involving patents.
In April, Redmond said it was disappointed with the jury’s verdict, insisted it hadn’t been guilty of infringement, claimed the patent was “invalid”, and that the award of damages had been “legally and factually unsupported”.
Smith concluded in his order that Microsoft hadn’t infringed the patent, but also dismissed the software giant’s efforts to challenge the validity of the patent.
It’s unclear at this stage if Uniloc, which could not be reached for comment at time of writing, will appeal the judge’s decision. ®
Err... What about a hypothetical racist jury, who found the defentant in a trial guilty, because he was back. It has happened. Should a more senior judge not be able to say that these guys didn't understand the law/they are racists so the verdict is null and void?
The comments are valid. What IS the point in having trial by jury if a judge can later overrule and say they didn't understand the law. That's the point of juries. They're not expected to know the law. Having been on a jury before It's the job of the legal teams to prove a case either way. Whichever way the jury goes depends on the quality or the evidence and the skill of the lawyers. Personally i couldn't give a crap what MS has/hasn't done. What's troubling is that ONE judge can overrule just on the basis of his/her understanding the law themselves. What if they get it wrong and the jury was right? At least in the UK, appeals are heard by a panel of judges. That way judges with a single mindset are unlikely to dominate an appeal.
@ Grease Monkey
"However far too many patents that are granted these days seem to be invalid. It seems that the system now works on the principal of granting patents and then reviewing them later. More money for the patent lawyers I suppose."
Half-correct on the factual observation, incorrect about the deduction: standards of many Patent Offices have tended to slip slipped because of overwork/application overload, and are now being addressed (now that Patent Offices can breathe again, since everybody and their dog has run out of cash to file applications).
'More dubious' applications are being routinely dismissed (especially in the software/IT field) in the shortest-possible sumary manner (US/EP/UK), and have been for a while.
'Less dubious' applications are granted quick to let the applicant and his competitor(s) sort out validity in pre- or post-grant review/opposition proceedings.
All in the name of "clearing the backlog".
The Patent Offices are driving the facts behind your observation, not IP professionals, who are caught in the cross-fire as it happens: how do you advise clients reliably about procedures measured in years, when these days Patent Offices change the proverbial yardstick (examination guidelines based on case law) every other month?
Mine's the one with the Article 56 rejection, because the business person told the programmer how to implement everything.