Software

Roses are red, revenge is so sweet. Microsoft extracts a few quid from Corel Office Suite

Jury awards Redmond some pocket change in patent dustup

By Shaun Nichols in San Francisco

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Microsoft has been awarded just over a quarter of a million dollars in its patent infringement case against Corel.

A US district court jury in San Francisco decided on Tuesday [PDF] that the Canadian developer's Corel Home Office Suite did indeed willfully trample on Redmond's patented user interface and menu designs in Microsoft Office – but because Microsoft did not properly notify Corel prior to filing the lawsuit, the total damages only added up to $275,000 (£197,958), a fraction of the million-plus dollars Microsoft was said to have been seeking.

Corel previously admitted its products ripped off Redmond's user interfaces, leaving the jury to decide whether the infringement was willful and the amount of damages. Corel once upon a time went as far as boasting its suite had a "Microsoft Word mode," so yeah. Screwed.

The payout is particularly small considering Microsoft first filed its complaint against Corel back in 2015, and thus its legal bills in pursuing this case are presumably not insignificant. Still, Redmond got a patent win, and that's something companies are always proud of.

The original complaint [PDF] alleged that Corel's own Office suite copied the design and feel of Microsoft Office and infringed on nine of its patents covering areas like the Office Ribbon menu, the interface design and layout of its word processing and spreadsheets applications, and even the way Corel drew its slider bars.

By the time the case reached the jury, the claim had been whittled down to just six patents, with Corel admitting infringement.

Corel declined to comment. A spokesperson for Microsoft told us: "We’re pleased with the jury’s decision. As we have maintained throughout the case, it’s important for Microsoft to protect its intellectual property.”

Another hearing will be held on March 2 to make sure any loose ends are tied up. ®

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