I4i wins final approval from USPTO in Microsoft dispute

The patent office has confirmed the i4i patent that is at the center of the dispute

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a final confirmation of a patent awarded to i4i that is at the heart of a dispute with Microsoft and that once threatened the sale of Word software.

Microsoft has already had to remove a feature from Word 2007 and has been ordered to pay more than US$240 million in damages due to the ongoing battle over the technology. Should Microsoft decide to continue to pursue the battle, its next stop is the Supreme Court.

I4i on Tuesday said that the USPTO issued a Reexamination Certificate for its patent. The certificate formally concludes the re-examination proceedings, i4i said.

"Put simply Microsoft lost the trial, lost the appeal, and lost the reexamination," i4i Chairman Loudon Owen said in a statement.

The relevant patent covers technology that lets people create custom XML documents. After a judge ruled that Microsoft had to stop selling products using the technology, it removed the feature from Word 2007. An appeals court has twice refused Microsoft's requests to reconsider the case.

Microsoft did not immediately reply to a request for comment about the USPTO's decision. In May, after the USPTO suggested it would uphold i4i's patent, Microsoft said it was disappointed but that important matters of patent law were at stake, so it was considering approaching the Supreme Court.

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