Microsoft Gets 141 New Enemies in Upcoming Supreme Court Case

It's not just the i4i development firm that thinks Microsoft stole a bit of editing technology that ended up in an older version of Word. Besides several lower courts that think so too, 141 other smaller companies just signed a brief in support of i4i (no word if they picked the 141 number for branding purposes). And the support comes just as the case heads to the final homestretch of the U.S. Supreme Court. Not bad timing.

As the Seattle Times reports today, and we've reported before, the case started when i4i sued Microsoft for patent infringement to the tune of $290 million. It has to do with i4i owning a patent on some XML editing software that Microsoft used in Word and was later forced to strip out by a lower court's ruling.

Since then, Microsoft has appealed, saying i4i's patent wasn't valid to begin with and, since the burden of proof when alleging such things falls on Microsoft, here we are at the Supreme Court.

To its credit, Microsoft has its own backers like Apple, Google, Walmart and Toyota.

The brief with the boatload of companies signed onto it was filed on Dec. 22 and the case hits the high court's docket in the spring.

It's an important one too. Businesses economy-wide can be impacted by the ruling if they are selling or developing original products or modifying others. Microsoft says it's about "protecting innovation" from "bad patents." And companies in the brief say it could shake up the "presumption of validity" given to patents and therefore make millions of other patents questionable in court.

Basically its a grossly important and highly technical case that takes place in the head-achingly complex world of U.S. patent law.

Really, it's quite dry.

Now avoid the subject all you can and we'll tell you what happens when its over.

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