Jury tells Microsoft to pay $133 million in patent case

April 20, 2006|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

TYLER, Texas -- A Texas jury ruled yesterday that Microsoft Corp. and Autodesk Inc. must pay $133 million to a Michigan man who claimed he was owed royalties for inventions to prevent software piracy.

The jury awarded Z4 Technologies, founded by David Colvin of Commerce Township, Mich., $115 million from Microsoft and $18 million from Autodesk.

Colvin claimed two patents were infringed by software including Microsoft's Office and Windows XP, and Autodesk's AutoCAD.

The verdict is the second large patent loss for Microsoft. The company is fighting a 2003 verdict in Chicago of $521 million for patent infringement over a feature in its Internet Explorer.

The Z4 verdict continued a pattern of victories in East Texas federal courts for patent owners claiming infringement.

It is "the largest amount of damages awarded by a jury in a patent case" in the district, a court news release quoted local patent lawyer Michael Smith, who wasn't part of the case.

Microsoft said it will continue to fight the case.

Owners won 11 of 13 patent trials in the Eastern District of Texas from 1994 to March, 85 percent compared with a national average of 67 percent, according to LegalMetric LLC, a St. Louis-based company that tracks such cases.

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