Law and Tech A weblog on Law and Technology

13Jan/100

Cleveland Show

There was an interesting episode of The Cleveland Show this week titled "Love Rollercoaster." It involved, among other things, the main character and his friends trying to come up with invention ideas. As probably the most enjoyable episode that I've seen thus far of the show I was excited. The only think that irked me was that at the end, Cleveland's great invention was stolen from a night time infomercial and the makers of the original product sued for Copyright infringement. Now, living with a bunch of Intellectual Property law students there was a simultaneous gasp. "What do you mean Copyright Infringement?"

I guess they can't be perfect, but don't you think one person would understand the difference between patents and copyrights? Oh well. I guess writers only really care about certain forms of IP.

To watch the show on Hulu: http://www.hulu.com/watch/118516/the-cleveland-show-love-rollercoaster

12Aug/090

i4i LP v. Microsoft Corp.

In a two page order filed 8/11 in the Eastern District of Texas, Judge Leonard Davis entered final judgment against Microsoft for willful infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,787,449 (issued Jul. 28, 1998) assigned to Infrastructure for Information Inc. The patent covers a “Method and system for manipulating the architecture and the content of a document separately from each other.” What is ironic about this is that Microsoft was recently issued U.S. Patent No. 7,571,169 (issued Aug. 4, 2009) covering a “Word-processing document stored in a single XML file that may be manipulated by applications that understand XML.”

This reminds me of one of the, albeit at first confusing, maxims of patent law. A patent is a right to exclude others from making, using, selling, importing, etc. the patented invention. It does not give an affirmative right to the party to do any of those acts. The example that commonly exemplifies this is the case of an improvement. Adam makes a widget out of A and B. Bill comes along and improves upon the widget, adding element C. Both get patents on their invention. Bill is unable to fully exercise his invention because Adam holds the original patent, and Adam cannot make the improvement because of Bill.

Microsoft was ordered to pay $200M in damages, $40M in enhanced damages, post-verdict damages, as well as pre-and-post judgment interest. The court also ordered a permanent injunction, barring Microsoft from, inter alia, “selling, offering to sell, and/or importing in or into the United States any Infringing and Future Word Products that have the capability of opening a .XML, .DOCX, or .DOCM file (“an XML file”) containing custom XML” during the patent term. The patent expires 17 years from the date of issue, July 28, 2015.

According to SEC filings, “[t]here are over 50 other patent infringement cases pending against Microsoft, 10 of which are set for trial in fiscal year 2010.“