Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Microsoft Patent Case

Lora Bentley

Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court is slated to hear Microsoft's argument that the burden of proof for a defendant in a patent infringement case should be lowered, according to The Wall Street Journal. Several technology companies, including Apple, Facebook, eBay, Cisco Systems and Intel, support Microsoft's position, as do many banks and generic drug companies. Brand-name pharmaceutical companies, venture capital firms and the Obama administration are among those who oppose it.

 

In a final bid to change the outcome of the patent infringement case the company defended last year against i4i regarding technology used in older versions of Microsoft Word, Microsoft argues that defendants in patent infringement cases should not have to prove the invalidity of the patent at issue by clear and convincing evidence. Instead, they should be able to invalidate the patents with a preponderance of the evidence. The change will make it harder for patent trolls, who often claim infringement first and worry about the patent's validity later, to go after companies with deep pockets, Microsoft says.

 

But those on the other side of the fence argue that reducing the "clear and convincing" standard will "lessen the incentive" to spend the time and money developing new products. It would also mean far less private investment in new ideas. Foley and Lardner attorney Harold Wegner told the WSJ:

Ending the clear-and-convincing standard would remarkably weaken the position of patent owners.

A decision is expected in June.



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