WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court agreed today to referee a $290 million dispute between Microsoft Corp. and a Canadian technology company over complaints that a tool used in the popular Microsoft Word program violated patent protections.
The high court agreed to hear an appeal from the Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, which wants the multimillion dollar judgment against it erased.
Toronto-based i4i sued Microsoft in 2007, saying it owned the technology behind a tool used in Microsoft Word. The technology in question gave Word 2003 and Word 2007 users an improved way to edit XML, which is computer code that tells the program how to interpret and display a document’s contents.
The lower courts say Microsoft willfully infringed on the patent, and ordered the world’s largest software maker to pay i4i $290 million and stop selling versions of Word containing the infringing technology.
Microsoft now sells versions of Word that do not contain the technology in question.
Microsoft executive David Howard said the company is glad the justices decided to hear their appeal.
“It’s a clear affirmation that the issues raised in this case are critical to the integrity of our patent system,” Howard said. “We look forward to presenting our case to the Supreme Court.”
Chief Justice John Roberts did not take part in the consideration or the decision in this case. He reported owning between $100,000-$250,000 worth of Microsoft stock in 2009 on his annual disclosure report.
The court will hear the case sometime next year.
The case is Microsoft v. i4i, 10-290.