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US Government Backs i4i In Case Against Microsoft

The US government has decided to support Canadian software maker i4i in its patent infringement battle against Microsoft.

i4i had initially filed a patent infringement lawsuit against the software giant, alleging that Microsoft unlawfully used i4i's XML authoring technology in its Word software.

In August 2009 a US district judge found Microsoft guilty of violating i4i patents and ordered it to remove the offending technology from Word or stop selling the Word software altogether. Microsoft was also ordered to pay i4i $240 million in damages and another $40 million for misconduct by one of its lawyers.

Microsoft appealed the court ruling to the US Supreme Court which will begin hearing new arguments in April. The US government has now thrown its weight behind i4i, backing the district court's initial ruling.

The amicus brief filed by the U.S. Solicitor General joins 21 other similar briefs filed by more than 100 companies that support i4i's actions against Microsoft. The US government supports the decision passed by a US Appeals Court in favour of i4i.

The government believes that a decision passed by the US Patents and Trademark Office should not be second guessed by a Supreme Court jury.

“By allowing a lay jury to second-guess the PTO's judgment even in close cases, the preponderance standard would diminish the expected value of patents and would reduce future inventors' incentives to innovate and to disclose their inventions to the public,” the amicus brief read.