Plucky little Canadian software company i4i has had a breakthrough in its long-running dispute with Microsoft.
The Toronto outfit, which has been insisting for 16 years that the Redmond behemoth stole part of its code for the Office suite of software, has been given the green light to continue its legal action by the US Patent Office.
The patent, which was granted in 1998, covers the use of XML which is a core component of Microsoft's ubiquitous Word application.
"This is a very material step in our litigation against Microsoft. Put simply: i4i's patent is clearly and unequivocally valid. Even though Microsoft attacked i4i's patent claims with its full arsenal, the Patent Office agreed with i4i and confirmed the validity of our patent," said i4i's Chairman Loudon Owen yesterday.
Microsoft promised more expensive legal chicanery saying, "We are disappointed, but there still remain important matters of patent law at stake, and we are considering our options to get them addressed, including a petition to the Supreme Court."