August 23, 2006 10:31 AM PDT

Patent verdict against Microsoft, Autodesk stands

A federal judge in Texas has delivered a setback to Microsoft and Autodesk in their patent infringement battle with product activation start-up Z4 Technologies.

U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis turned down the software makers' request for a new trial in a patent infringement lawsuit filed by Z4 Technologies and awarded enhanced damages, ordering Microsoft and Autodesk to pay a combined total of $158 million.

The initial suit was filed nearly two years ago by David Colvin, owner of Michigan-based Z4, over two product activation technologies. One of those technologies is designed to prevent unauthorized use of software; the other is used to combat piracy.

In a verdict reached April 19, a jury found that Microsoft and Autodesk had violated Colvin's patents; the companies' subsequent request for a new trial was turned down Friday. Microsoft is expected to challenge the verdict in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Representatives for Microsoft and Autodesk, which had asked for a new trial on the basis that the patents were unenforceable because of inequitable conduct, were not readily available. The counsel for Z4 declined to comment.

Not only has the original verdict been upheld, but Microsoft's patent penalty has also been increased by $25 million for enhanced damages, bringing its total bill to $140 million. It also must pay an estimated $2 million in legal fees.

It's the second-biggest patent infringement fee that Microsoft has had to fork over to a smaller company, surpassed only by the $500-plus million that the Redmond, Wash.-based software behemoth was ordered to pay to Eolas Technologies in 2003. Microsoft's fines in antitrust cases, however, have reached into the billions of dollars.

The penalty for San Rafael, Calif.-based Autodesk, originally $18 million, has been increased by $322,000.

The East Texas Federal District Court is a frequent destination for patent infringement complaints, like this summer's Red Hat-JBoss lawsuit, because of its reputation for efficiency on cases in that field.

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Autodesk Inc., verdict, patent infringement, federal judge, trial

17 comments

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Nearly every Microsoft technology was 'stolen'
Every time Microsoft uses the term 'innovate', the hair on the back of my neck stands on end.
Posted by extinctone (214 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I agree
DOS - ripped off
Wondows - stolen
task bar auto hide - stolen
tabbed browsing - stolen
what did they inovate again? Oh thats right security holes and cloud pictures.
Posted by Central_office_tech (49 comments )
Link Flag
Microsofts use of the word innovate:
You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you
think it means.
Posted by the Otter (247 comments )
Link Flag
I like MS, But I agree
I like Microsofts products like MS Office and the .Net framework, but they really do steal a lot of ideas from other companies. It's kinda of sad really. If they had a team of creative researchers their company could have lots of potential. But business is business...
Posted by coryschulz (326 comments )
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idea is not invoation
Idea is not inovation. Inovation involves idea and implemenation. Look at what SUN, IBM, ORACLE, GOOGLE does, most stuff originally come from universities.

If ideas equal inovation, then the NASA must have stolen the idea of rokets from some science fiction authors. In fact, the idea of a rocket originated in China. So every time you watch the launch of space shuttle, do you hnow that the idea came from some forgoten Chinese craftsman in ancient times? Do the glory of the shuttle program or the Apolo space program belong to this craftman in China?
Posted by fc11 (48 comments )
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speaking of stolen
notice that Apple just paid Creative $100M for stealing / infringing on a bunch of Creative's pmp-related patents?
Posted by Hardrada (359 comments )
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That comment was stolen
Why don't you come up with your own innovative new comment?

Otherwise you don't have a leg to stand on for complaining about what MS has "stolen". And just for the record MS *BOUGHT AND PAID FOR* DOS, they didn't steal it at all. Just because they paid the source a mere $50k for it and later made hundreds of millions on it doesn't make it theft.
Posted by aabcdefghij987654321 (1721 comments )
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MS & AutoDesk are bed buddies
They have been in bed together since AutoCAD was in DOS / Unix / Mac formats. Once MS "convinced" them to port AutoCAD over to the "new Windows platform" lo & behold that was the ONLY platform that are working on ever since...

Coincidense?
I don't think so.
Posted by Llib Setag (951 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bad decision
As much as I despise the greedy arrogant ***** from MS, I have to defend them a tad. Even though they are guilty of the same thing. Abuses software patents.

This is yet another reason why patents in software is a bad thing. Copyrights are all software needs to be thoroughly protected. Imagine if all the great algorithms that are still in use today but were developed 30-40 years ago were patented. What if the OS was, or word processor.

Too many companies are coming up with obviouos ideas with prior art, not even implementing them, just patenting them and waiting for their cash cow to arrive.

Software is not anything like a real invention, especially when the patent applicant has only a vague idea not an implementation. But even attached to a real implimentation it is still a bogus patent,

Software is very much like a book, which any sane person would agree can not be patented. Software is just words in a certain order. All this talk about some new software being "new technology" is total crap. It is just words that do something that might be new, but the words and order of them are generally not new.

These software companies that are bottom feeding on others are holding back the software industry. Yes, it is delicious irony when a massive patent abuser like MS gets smashed in the face, but it is still wrong.

Luckily, most of the important tech countries are moving towards a total ban on patents, which will help the US towards the necessary goal of stopping predatory companies that create nothing, but suck out the life of companies that are doing real work.

Patents stifle innovation, period.
Posted by qwerty75 (1164 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reforms are needed
I don't often agree with qwerty, but I find patent squating as ugly as domain squating. What stinks is: it's the first to patent, not the first to implement. How patents work now, I could theoretically go patent the game of baseball and subsequently sue the owners of the professional teams for infringing on my patent. I don't have to invent the game or even play it, just be first to patent the "concept" of the game.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
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Not quite
Patents, when limited to the Constitutionally-mandated 17 years, are a good thing. If you cannot make money on your invention in 17 years, you deserve to lose the monopoly on that *one* idea.

Its *software* (and idea) patents which stifle innovation.
Posted by Vurk (147 comments )
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