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Microsoft Trial Win a Legislative Loss?

Posted Sep 5, 2007 10:58 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A stunning $1.52 billion verdict against Microsoft Corp. in a patent case earlier this month was the impetus for planned changes in U.S. patent law. But now that the computer megalith has succeeded in getting the federal jury verdict overturned, its courtroom win is likely to mean a legislative loss.

Microsoft, which is facing multiple infringement actions, argues that patent case law too strictly regulates the industry, and Congress is scheduled to begin debating the issue on Sept. 7, reports Bloomberg. Although computer companies such as Intel Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. side with Microsoft, representatives of pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporations say there is no reason to reduce current patent protections.

Now, recent court decisions appear to bolster the argument that the current legal system is working fine, Bloomberg writes. Originally, the Microsoft verdict was "the poster child for why damages need to be changed,'' says Steven Miller, general counsel for intellectual property at Procter & Gamble Co. But "it's now proven we don't need that overhaul,'' he says.

As detailed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post, U.S. District Judge Rudi Brewster, who sits in San Diego, overturned the jury verdict on Aug. 6 because it lacked an adequate legal basis.

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