Microsoft has been ordered to pay up by the US Supreme Court after losing a high-profile appeal, which means the company will be poorer by $290 million after paying for damages which could be a landmark case in helping tilt the balance in other patent cases against defendants who have seemingly inexhaustible bank accounts. It seemed that the whole $290m payout was due to Microsoft’s widely used Word software which actually contravened a patent held by I4i, a small Canadian software company. The case is a prime example in the US where the issue concerning rich and large companies being held hostage by opportunistic “patent trolls”, where the latter are thought of manipulating a lax patent system in order to extract large payments. This is sort of gambling in a sense, hoping that your patent will be used by other large companies without their knowledge, only to go to the court and have it rule in your favor. Microsoft claims that the level of proof required to overturn a patent in the US under normal standards was too high, and that it ought to meet a lower standard so that I4i’s patent can be thrown out. What do you think of this whole situation?
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