December 23, 2009, 7:50 am
Yesterday a very small company won a very big victory against a very large software vendor. The small company is i4i, a Canadian company that claimed that the large company had not infringed its patent accidentally, but knowingly and willfully, after engaging in discussions relating to the very same technology in question. For the small company, the functionality in question represented its main product, so when the big company bundled the same technology for free in its own product, i4i‚Äôs business was gutted. If you‚Äôve been following the story already, you know that the big company is Microsoft.
Yesterday‚Äôs big victory was the affirmation by an appellate court of the trial court‚Äôs finding of willful infringement. Under the ruling on appeal, Microsoft had been required to remove its infringing code within 60 days, and also pay i4i $290 million in damages due to the lost sales and other harm it had caused. Here are my thoughts on what just happened, and what‚Äôs likely to happen next.