Loudon Owen, left, and Michael Vulpe of i4i, literally counting the $290 million in damages from the Microsoft case. That's the very same calculator used by the jury in the original trial.

Earlier today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Toronto-based technology company i4i in a patent infringement lawsuit against Microsoft — rejecting the Redmond company’s bid to lower the standard for proving patents invalid at trial. The landmark decision upholds a $290 million verdict against Microsoft.

GeekWire spoke via phone with Loudon Owen, i4i’s chairman, about the ruling, its implications, and what the company plans to do next.

How are you feeling? We are gratified. It’s a tremendously important decision for the industry, and it mushroomed from a case where we were enforcing our property rights into one of the most important decisions in business law by the U.S. Supreme Court in decades.

Where now from here for i4i? First and formost we get out of bed every morning because we’re excited about what we do. The vision and the drive of Michael Vulpe who is the founder and the co-inventor. That’s what we’re going to, we’re going to build our business and change the way the world manages information for the better. At the same time, as people should be aware by now, we’re going to continue to develop intellectual property and we will be vigilant to be sure that people do not infringe upon our rights, and if they do we will enforce.

What products are you going to be offering? We have a suite of products and solutions currently addressing the vertical market in pharmaceuticals, and the life-cycle of data management. It’s custom XML, which capitalizes on XML to ensure that you can structure unstructured data. You can take just mounds of data that otherwise just a jumble of words, and you can effectively create a database out of it and manage it far more effectively, so the data synchronize. Currently we’ve been focusing on the pharmaceutical vertical. We have in the past worked in a whole range of vertical markets. We’ll continue now to build our business and grow it into other verticals.

What are you going to do with the money? We’re going to build our business. It’s funny, we don’t really focus on the money, we’re not really thinking about it. It’s a step in a long journey, and it’s an important next step, but we’ll figure out what to do with our board and our shareholders, and we’ll go forward and build our business.

Comments

  • Guest

    “That’s what we’re going to, we’re going to build our business”

    Translation: use this win to patent troll the other major tech leaders.

  • Peter H.

    I think the biggest problem with software patents is the Patent Office is far too lenient on making patent authors prove non-obviousness.  While this i4i patent is not as bad as some of the more glaring examples — reading through their claims, it’s hard to see how most people implementing such a feature would not independently come up with this method.

    There are some software patents that represent truly unique ideas (the RSA encryption patent is a good example, in my view).  However, in my experience, the broad majority of software patents are filed on ideas that most decent developers would come up with for implementing some given feature.  Thus the patent game becomes “who gets there first” — protecting firstmanship, rather than protecting true innovation. 

    The damage is the many costs of having to worry about patent attacks, and the resources that are sucked out of innovation and put toward legal defense instead.

    I think the best way to fix the software patent mess would be to have true adherence to the non-obviousness requirement.  This i4i patent and so many others like it don’t qualify, in my view.

  • Jono

    “We don’t focus on the money” Oh please. Next they’re going to try to patent the Dvorak keyboard.

  • Brianm101

    The whole concept of patents and especialy software patents has gone far beyond its sell by date. There is precious little that is truely unique in todays technology, everthing builds on something else.

    Copyright and design rights is perhaps nearer the mark of what is required for todays tech.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jameswm1 James Wallis Martin

    There is a mixed feeling about this:  Did Microsoft go too far? Probably. Did big business win?  Not this time.  Did this lawsuit make the world a better place? Not really.  Will this protect or kill innovation?  Neither.  As far as I can tell, the fact that it had to lead to such a lawsuit in the first place is testament to the failings of the patent system to really protect innovation.  Being a moving target and continuous improvement seem to be a much more fruitful way to go.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jameswm1 James Wallis Martin

    There is a mixed feeling about this:  Did Microsoft go too far? Probably. Did big business win?  Not this time.  Did this lawsuit make the world a better place? Not really.  Will this protect or kill innovation?  Neither.  As far as I can tell, the fact that it had to lead to such a lawsuit in the first place is testament to the failings of the patent system to really protect innovation.  Being a moving target and continuous improvement seem to be a much more fruitful way to go.

  • http://blog.findwell.com Kevin Lisota

    Did these guys actually pose for a press photo with a calculator to show off their “winnings”? Tasteless and crass…

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