15 April, 2009

Singapore firm sues Microsoft

MICROSOFT, the world’s largest software maker, allegedly stole a Singapore company’s patented invention used to deter piracy and should pay more than US$558 million ($847 million) in royalties, a lawyer for the firm told a United States federal court jury yesterday.

Uniloc Singapore and California-based Uniloc USA, claim Microsoft used its security technology to earn billions of dollars. Microsoft saw Uniloc’s patent and used it without permission, their lawyer, Mr Paul Hayes, told jurors yesterday during closing arguments at the District Court in Providence, Rhode Island.

Microsoft had “nothing unique going in” to create its anti-piracy software, claimed Mr Hayes, from Boston law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo.

Microsoft contends that it uses a different method to prevent the use of unauthorized copies of its software. It also challenged whether Uniloc’s patent covers a new invention.

“There is no infringement in this case. The technology is fundamentally different,” said Microsoft’s attorney Frank Scherkenbach from Boston’s Fish and Richardson, in his closing argument. Microsoft claims Uniloc’s patent is obvious and should be deemed invalid.

In addition, Mr Scherkenbach said the request for more than half a billion US dollars in damages was “extreme and out of whack.” Between US$3 million and US$7 million would be “generous,” if the jury were to find infringement, he said.

The trial began on March 23 and the jury of six women and four men are scheduled to resume their deliberations today.

Uniloc claims it is entitled to US$2.50 for each of the 223 million activations of a product that has Windows XP, Office XP, Windows Server 2003 and Office 2003 sold since October 2003, when the suit was filed. Microsoft, while challenging the patent and infringement claims, said that if it lost, Uniloc should only get about 5 cents for each US activation.

Uniloc’s lawyer told the jury that such a small royalty would let Microsoft “get away with murder” and would only encourage future infringement.
- Bloomberg


From TODAY, Business – Thursday, 09-April-2009