Microsoft loses $290 million patent battle, begins searching couch cushions

We've diligently followed the Microsoft v. i4i Limited Partnership patent dispute as it wound its way through the courts, and now comes the day of reckoning: by a unanimous decision, the US Supreme Court has upheld the patent-infringement finding against Redmond. For those of you just catching up, MS had been taken to court by Toronto-based i4i over a portfolio of XML-related patents -- patents it had already offered to license to the software behemoth. In court, Microsoft claimed it had not infringed and that the patents were invalid; a 2009 Texas court disagreed and awarded $200 million in damages. A subsequent appeal failed. Oh, and the government sided with i4i. Today's Supreme Court verdict upholds the lower courts' decisions: Microsoft Word is an infringing product, and the company now owes $290 million. The finding likely won't affect consumers, as the offending versions of Word are now obsolete. Still, $290 million isn't chump change, even for the world's largest software company. There's probably a joke in here about i4i justice, but we'll be dadblasted if we can find it.