Uniloc USA, Inc. v. Microsoft Corp. Patent Infringement
Uniloc USA, Inc. v. Microsoft Corp. patent infringement case was filed originally in 2006 in U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. Uniloc is a copy protection and computer security software company. It was established in 1992. This company operates on patent-based technology given to Ric Richardson. Uniloc develops try and buy applications which is distribute through magazines. They apps are also preinstalled in new computers.
In this case, the controversial patent was 216 patent. In the US, it is patent number 5,490,216. This is a software registration system deterring users of the software from copying it to other computers. According to Uniloc, Product Activation Feature of Microsoft infringed this patent.
The Product Activation Feature of Microsoft acts as a gatekeeper for different Windows operating systems as well as the Microsoft Office products. Users are required to enter a key with 25 characters in this product. The key is an alphanumeric key. Based on this software, it forms a Product ID and then a Hardware ID is generated from the computer information.
After initiating Product Activation, digital license is requested from Microsoft via the internet. In a remote location, the information is entered into an SHA-1 Windows products’ algorithm or MD5 message digest algorithms for the Office products.
Both software pieces hinder copying of the software casually and users install the copies of program in multiple computers. This violates the conditions of software license. According to Uniloc, Microsoft uses algorithms in the product activation application that infringe its patent.
Microsoft and Uniloc used product key with an aim of reducing unauthorized copying of their software. The district court granted a summary judgment that declared that Microsoft did not infringe patent of Uniloc. However, Uniloc appealed the ruling of the district court in the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This court reversed the ruling and the decision was remanded.
In remanded case, the district court returned the infringement verdict. The court found that infringement by Microsoft was willful and therefore it rewarded Uniloc damages worth $388 million. However, district court allowed for a new trial on willfulness and infringement and other motions after the post-trial motions. Uniloc appealed again.
The new infringement trial was reversed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit but it affirmed the lack of evidence on the side of Uniloc to prove that the willfulness. A new trial for damage costs was granted.
Later, Microsoft and Uniloc reached a mutually agreeable settlement and the terms of this resolution were kept secret.
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