Patent Central to Microsoft Case Invalidated

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has invalidated a claim to Web browser technology central to a case against Microsoft Corp., a move that could spare the software giant from paying more than half a billion dollars in damages, according to documents obtained on Friday. The patent agency's preliminary decision, if upheld, also means that Microsoft will not be required to make changes to its Internet Explorer Web browser that would have crippled the program's ability to work with mini-programs that work over the Internet, such as the Quicktime and Flash media players.

Last year, an Illinois jury delivered a $521 million verdict against Microsoft for infringing on technology developed by a privately held firm, Eolas Technologies Inc., and the University of California. "We have maintained all along that, when scrutinized closely, this patent would be ruled invalid," Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said in a statement. Desler said that Eolas has 60 days to respond to the decision and that the agency's ruling was "just one step in their review process, but clearly a positive step."

News source: Reuters

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