Friday, March 11, 2005

MICROSOFT REITERATES CALL FOR REFORM: Microsoft recently called for reform of the US patent system in a speech by Brad Smith to a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC. Ironically, Smith claimed that the long-term health of the system is threatened by a "flood of patent applications" as well as an "explosion of sometimes-abusive litigation." While Microsoft certainly has not been litigious on the plaintiff's side, being one of the top patent filers certainly throws water on the theory that filing gobs of patent applications presents a "problem" for Microsoft.

Nevertheless, Smith outlined proposals to reduce "abusive" patent litigation, create "more consistency among international patent systems [and] eliminate patent filing fees for individual inventors and small firms", and he also called for more consistent funding for the US Patent and Trademark Office leading to "more quality in the patent process".

Perhaps the most notorious patent dispute involving Redmond is its spat with Eolas regarding "a method of opening third party applications within a browser".

The case saw Microsoft slapped with a $565m penalty for allegedly infringing an Eolas patent. However, the US Court of Appeals last week sent the case back for a new trial. A delighted Redmond says it will "now be able to tell the jury the whole story of how this technology was developed and to present evidence that shows that Eolas did not invent this technology, and that it was developed by others"

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