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14 June 2011

US Supreme Court Refuses Microsoft's 'Presumption of Validity' Argument in its Dispute with i4i

US Supreme Court Refuses Microsoft's 'Presumption of Validity' Argument in its Dispute with i4i

The US Supreme Court has just issued a patent decision in the dispute between Microsoft and i4i. Microsoft had previously been found guilty of patent infringement and ordered to pay a large fine.  Microsoft tried to argue that the 'presumption of validity' under US law only applied to prior art that had been reviewed by the USPTO during prosecution, not to other prior art that had not been cited.  This is to be contrasted with the current position, in which there is a presumption of validity over all prior art.  The presumption of validity impacts the standard of proof required to demonstrate invalidity: one has to provide clear and convincing evidence to prove invalidity when a patent is presumed valid. In brief, Microsoft tried to argue that a lower standard, the 'preponderance of the evidence' standard, applies to prior art that had not been cited during prosecution.

The Supreme Court unanimously refused to accept this argument, saying that any change in the interpretation of this standard would have to go through Congress. The decision is therefore generally regarded as good for patentees, as it reinforces the presumption of validity of a granted US patent.

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