Case 32: i4i Ltd. Partnership v. Microsoft Corp. (2010)

From Bill Goodwine's Wiki
Jump to navigationJump to search

i4i creates custom software for other businesses. They hold a patent for an XML editor; Microsoft has included XML editing features in its Office suite (specifically Word) since 2003. i4i claimed that the Microsoft products infringed on their patent, which the District Court upheld. Microsoft claimed i4i's patent was invalid.

The CAFC had to decide what the precise meaning of the word "distinct" was. In the claim, "distinct" means that the metacode map and the mapped data are stored in "distinct storage means." In addition, the document content is stored via “mapped content distinct storage means.” Microsoft argued that distinct implied

  1. the metacode map and mapped content were stored in separate files, not just separate sections of the computer's memory; and
  2. the document's content and metacode map could be accessed and edited independently of each other.

The CAFC upheld the district court's decision. It said that a claim is not limited to the claims described unless there is a clear intent on the part of the patentee to restrict its scope. As for the infringement claims, there are three kinds present: direct, contributory, and induced. Because the '449 patent was a method, the sale of Word does not infringe on the patent per se. However, a reasonable jury could conclude that at least one person used Word in the method described. This is the question of contributory infringement: did Microsoft willingly sell a means for a person to perform a patented process? In order to be so, the means must include the apparatus for performing the infringing act, have no other substantial noninfringing uses, and be known by the party to be used primarily for a method patented by another. While some users saved their files in noninfringing formats, the differences were trivial, and it is perfectly reasonable that Microsoft knew about the '449 patent and that its software infringed. Finally, for induced infringement, the patentee must prove both that there was direct infringement and that said infringement was the encouraged by the infringing party, i.e., Microsoft. It is clear that Microsoft induced infringement as evidenced by its examples of users performing the patented method in its own advertorial examples.