Microsoft v. i4i: Amici Make Strong Argument for Supreme Court Review of Patent Invalidity Standard

Clement S. RobertsThe following post comes from one of our newest Practice Center Contributor’s Clement S. Roberts.  Mr. Roberts is a founding partner at Durie Tangri where his practice focuses on intellectual property litigation and on complex commercial cases with a high-technology component.

A broad spectrum of academics and industry lined up Friday to support Microsoft’s request for Supreme Court review of its ongoing patent litigation against i4i.  In the underlying litigation, i4i won a pile of money on a patent dealing with the idea of separately storing metacodes and text in a markup language document.    While the litigation has an interesting factual history, the issue on appeal is a purely legal one – namely the application of the “clear and convincing evidence” standard to questions of invalidity.

As most people reading this blog already know, in order to invalidate a patent, a defendant must prove that the patent is invalid by “clear and convincing” evidence.  Ostensibly, this rule exists in order to reflect deference to the fact that the patent has been examined and found valid by an expert at the Patent and Trademark Office.    See e.g. American Hoist & Derrick co. v. Sowa & Sons, Inc, 725 F.2d 1350 at 1359 (Fed. Cir. 1984) (taking note of “the deference that is due to a qualified government agency presumed to have properly done its job.”).

Especially when taken together, however, the amicus briefs in Microsoft v. i4i overwhelmingly show that this is an exceptionally bad rule – at least when applied (as it is now) to all questions of invalidity. (more…)