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

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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.

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