Microsoft Betrayed i4i, Say Court Documents

Microsoft Corp.marketed i4i Inc.'s XML software to potential customers at the same time it planned to drive the small company out of business by infringing on its patent for the technology, according to court documents filed last week.

In a brief submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal District in Washington, Toronto-based i4i argued that an injunction blocking Microsoft from selling current versions of Word should stand.

Federal Judge Leonard Davis issued the injunction in August, barring Microsoft from selling Word 2003 and Word 2007 after Oct. 10. The decision came about three months after a Texas jury found that Microsoft had illegally used patented i4i technology to build XML features into its word processing software.

The jury had awarded i4i $200 million, but Davis increased the amount to just under $300 million when he issued the injunction.

Earlier this month, the three-judge appeals panel decided to stay the injunction while it weighs Microsoft's appeal.

I4i filed the patent infringement lawsuit in 2007. The new i4i brief charges that in 1991, "at the same time Microsoft was praising the improved functionality that i4i's product brought to Word, and touting i4i as a 'Microsoft Partner,' Microsoft was working behind i4i's back to make i4i's product obsolete."

According to the brief, just days after a 1991 meeting in which Microsoft had sought to find ways to work with i4i, Microsoft executives discussed XML plans for Word that would eventually "make obsolete any competitive attempts by third parties to conquer that market."

Microsoft must file its rebuttal to i4i's brief by Sept. 14; the appeals court is slated to hear oral arguments from the two sides on Sept. 23.

Asked to comment on i4i's briefs, a Microsoft spokesman said, "We're looking forward to the hearing on the merits of our appeal."

This version of the story originally appeared in Computerworld's print edition.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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