Microsoft Wins Reversal of $388 Patent Infringement Penalty

microsoft-medBack in April, a Rhode Island jury award Uniloc and its Singapore-based parent company some $388 million in damages, finding the Microsoft infringed on Uniloc’s antipiracy technology in Windows XP and Microsoft Office. Uniloc had been seeking $194 million in damages, but the jury doubled the damage award, presumably finding the Microsoft’s conduct in the dispute. The finding was one of the largest damage awards ever laid down in a civil case.

Now, Microsoft has managed to get the whole $388 million bill tossed: U.S District Judge William Smith has nullified the jury decision, meaning Microsoft won’t have to pay a dime.

The case stems from 2003, when patent holder Ric Richardson showed his patented technology to Microsoft under an agreement that the company would not copy his methods; however, Uniloc later alleged Microsoft infringed on the technology for activation of Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Office XP. Microsoft has consistently claimed it used a different method for activating software, and furthermore asserted Richardson’s patent was invalid because the technique was obvious.

Microsoft originally won a summary judgement on the dispute in two years ago; Uniloc appealed that ruling, which resulted in the jury award of $388 million. Now, Microsoft has had that penalty nullified, so—after six years—the companies are essentially back where they started.