The S&F law blog

Microsoft Successfully Appeals in Alcatel-Lucent Case
Microsoft successfuly appealed a court decision in it's legal battle with Alcatel-Lucent

Microsoft successfuly appealed a court decision in it's legal battle with Alcatel-Lucent

A United States federal appeals court has said Microsoft Corp does not have to pay Alcatel-Lucent US$ 358 million for patent infringement because of problems with how the damages were calculated.

The disputed patent covers a method of entering information into fields on a computer screen without using a keyboard. Alcatel-Lucent says Microsoft’s Outlook calendar and other programs illegally used this technology.

A District Court jury determined that damages should roughly equal what Microsoft would have paid up front to license the technology from Alcatel-Lucent. But last Friday, the US Appeals Court for the Federal Circuit said the telecommunications company didn’t prove its technology was valuable enough to have merited US$358 million in royalties.

The appeals court judges told a district court to reconsider the penalty.

Alcatel-Lucent spokeswoman Mary Ward said in an e-mail that the company was disappointed with the decision.

However, in the same ruling, judges affirmed the underlying verdict against Microsoft, saying it was supported by substantial evidence.

This patent suit is the last of six stemming from claims that Lucent Technologies Inc, which was bought by Alcatel in 2006, filed in 2003 against PC makers Gateway Inc and Dell Inc over technology developed by Bell Labs, Lucent’s research arm. Microsoft later joined the list of defendants.

Source: Shanghai Daily


Newsletters Regarding IPR (09.08.10)

Cargill withdraws case

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) permitted US company Cargill Inc to withdraw its patent infringement case against Nantong Foreign Trade Medicines & Health Products Co Ltd of China, marking a victory for the Chinese company.

The investigation was based on a complaint filed by Cargill on Jan 28, alleging that the importation and sales of certain non-shellfish derived glucosamine and other products of Nantong Medicines infringed on a patent owned by Cargill.

The complainant requested that the ITC issue an exclusion order and a “cease and desist” order.

Respondent Nantong Medicines brought 300 sets of materials and 12 boxes of files to challenge the complainant. The evidence forced Cargill to withdraw the case.

Patent alliance grows

Since its formation two years ago, the Shunde Patent Alliance of Electric Pressure Ovens has doubled its membership, according to a recent corporate patent conference.

In October 2006, Midea and three other companies formed the alliance in the Shunde district of Foshan in Guangdong province.

Initially there were four members, and now there are seven. The alliance’s patents grew from 46 to 195, accounting for 20 percent of all domestic patents in the industry.

Resin Systems patent

Resin Systems Inc (RS), a technology innovator and manufacturer of advanced composite products for infrastructure markets, announced that its RStandard modular composite poles are now patented in China.

This patent supports the company’s broader commercial strategy of protecting its unique technology in one of the world’s larger economies and fastest-growing electric power grids.

As the application of RS’s modular pole technology broadens, this patent, granted by the State Intellectual Property Office of China, ensures a secure entry for RStandard poles into the Chinese utility and communications markets, the company said.

About European patents

To enhance understanding of the European patent system, China’s State Intellectual Property Office and European Patent Office (EPO) recently held a seminar on the European patent system in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province.

EPO representatives said they hope more Chinese inventors apply for patents in Europe to better safeguard intellectual property rights in the overseas market.

According to the agency, online applications for patents can be made from China via the agency’s EPOLINE network.

IPR and Tibet

The State Intellectual Property Office and Intellectual Property Office of Tibet autonomous region held a workshop for Tibetan medical companies on patent use and the advantage of cultivating intellectual property rights (IPR) in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

The workshop in Llasa discussed how TCM and the Tibetan medicine industry bring benefits to ordinary people and enable the development of traditional knowledge-based industries.

Organizers said the workshop would help increase awareness of IPR concerning TCM and Tibetan medicine and make it easier to apply for patents in those fields.

Another Microsoft case

Microsoft Corp has taken legal action against three Shanghai companies over allegations of software piracy.

The case represents another example of the US software giant widening its net to challenge not only IT giants, but also small businesses.

Representatives of computer retailer Shanghai Changfeng Information Technology Co Ltd and its suppliers recently faced Microsoft attorneys in Shanghai No 2 Intermediate People’s Court.

Microsoft is seeking about 320,000 yuan in compensation from retailer Changfeng Information Technology and two of its computer suppliers, Shanghai Chenyue Information Technology Co Ltd and Shanghai Ziyue Network Technology Co Ltd.

Microsoft told the court that Changfeng Information Technology had long installed pirated software in computers before selling them.

A ruling has not yet been issued.

Source: China Daily

Microsoft wins piracy lawsuit
July 24, 2009, 3:43 pm
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Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system at display in a shopping mall in Beijing. The US software giant won a lawsuit against a Beijing computer dealer which was accused of providing pirated software to its customers.

China’s Do-It-Yourself personal computer market has proven a chronic headache for Microsoft Corp, which is continually battling the use of pirated software.

But the US-based software giant won a skirmish this month, when a Beijing court ruled against a major custom PC dealer accused of pre-installing pirated Microsoft Windows and Office software.

On July 2, Beijing No 1 Intermediate People’s Court, in a preliminary ruling, sided with Microsoft against Beijing Strongwell Technology & Development Co, one of the larger custom PC dealers in Beijing.

The court said the Beijing company infringed on Microsoft’s Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), and ordered Strongwell to pay Microsoft 461,409 yuan in compensation.

The ruling follows a year-long effort by Microsoft to focus more on battling piracy among smaller customer PC dealers and individual consumers suspected of using pirated software.

During the past few years, Microsoft has persuaded major PC makers, large companies and government organizations in China to use legitimate software.

But the use of pirated software reportedly still is prevalent among individual Chinese consumers.

“The enforcement of IPR protection is vital to innovation,” Yu Weidong, Microsoft China’s senior director on IPR issues, said in a statement issued to China Business Weekly following the court’s ruling.

“We will continue to work with the government to promote the use of legitimate software in China,” Yu said.

Established in 1994, Strongwell is the largest custom PC dealer in Beijing, with eight Do-It-Yourself PC stores in the city.

Microsoft sued the company after purchasing 12 computers pre-loaded with pirated Microsoft software, according to Microsoft’s lawsuit. Microsoft sought 500,000 yuan in damages.

Strongwell’s response was that the pirated software was installed at the request of individuals hired by Microsoft, and that the company only sells computer accessories – not computers.

Strongwell has not reported whether the company will appeal the ruling.

Although Microsoft was successful in promoting the use of legitimate software by corporations and government agencies, piracy reportedly is widespread in Do-It-Yourself markets, according to industry observers.

China’s Do-It-Yourself dealers are scattered, but altogether accounted for nearly 25 percent of the country’s PC market last year, according to the research firm IDC.

In July 2008, Microsoft filed a complaint with the Chinese government against the author of a highly popular, pirated version of Microsoft Windows XP. The man was arrested in August.

In October 2008, the company initiated a controversial tracking campaign that came with a warning system.

Chinese users of pirated Windows XP software would receive constant reminders from Microsoft.

The system also resulted in desktop screens being “black screened”, prompting numerous complaints.

A computer dealer in Beijing said the high price of Microsoft’s software is a major reason some consumers turn to cheaper pirated versions.

“Many customers spend 3,000 yuan for a Do-It-Yourself computer, and they don’t want to spend much of the rest of their limited budget on something if there is a free alternative,” said the dealer, who asked that his name not be used.

The dealer said that although Microsoft recently reduced its product price in China, many Chinese consumers still couldn’t afford it.

By the end of 2008, Microsoft had reduced the price of its Windows and Office software products by as much as 60 percent in China.

The drop in price broke with the company’s long-standing policy to maintain prices at about the same level around the world.

This month, Microsoft reported that it would sell the basic version of its Windows 7 software for 399 yuan in China — the lowest price worldwide.

The company hopes that the price reductions, together with its measures against piracy, will encourage more Chinese customers to buy legitimate software.

According to the Business Software Alliance, an international commercial software and hardware industry anti-piracy group, the PC software piracy rate in China dropped two percentage points last year to 80 percent.

That’s still almost twice as high as the global average of 41 percent.

Yu Guofu, a lawyer with Beijing’s Sam & Partners law firm, said the Strongwell ruling would have a limited effect on software piracy.

“But the case is not expected to extinguish pirated software in this market,” Yu said.

“Dealers may encourage consumers to install the pirated software themselves, which is not strictly prohibited under current IPR laws in China,” Yu said.

Source: China Law Daily

BSA: Software Piracy Rate Down To 80% In China
The Business Software Alliance has recorded a drop in sofware piracy in China

The Business Software Alliance has recorded a drop in sofware piracy in China

U.S.-headquartered non-profit software industry organization Business Software Alliance has revealed that the software piracy rate in China has decreased from 90% in 2004 to 80% in 2008.

According to BSA, during the entire year of 2008, the world’s software piracy rate continued to increase, of which, the piracy rate of PC software was 41%, which brought losses of USD53 billion to the industry. Statistics show that the world’s PC software piracy rate was 38% in 2007 and the number increased to 41% in 2008, though countries such as China and Russia had gained some successes in their anti-piracy campaigns. In 2008, the sales of PC software across the world increased by 14% to USD88 billion.

Robert Holleyman, president of BSA, said the anti-piracy campaigns in some countries have gained successes and the piracy rate in nearly half of all countries showed decreases, the piracy rate in one-third of these countries maintained the former level, but the total pirated value was still rising. Holleyman said the piracy rate in the United States is currently about 20%, which is the lowest in the world.

The software piracy rate in China decreased from 90% in 2004 to 80% in 2008 and that in Russia also decreased by 5% to 68%. Holleyman said this result in the Chinese market is mainly attributed to the government’s promotion of authentic software and the joint efforts of Internet service providers.

Source: China Tech News

Microsoft teams with Chinese city to fight piracy
May 18, 2009, 12:10 pm
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Microsoft and the City of Hangzhou are partnering in an anti-piracy effort

Microsoft and the City of Hangzhou are partnering in an anti-piracy effort

Microsoft and authorities in a Chinese city have linked up in the US giant’s latest bid to fight rampant software piracy in the key Asian market.

The deal, which the company hopes to be a model for other cities, will see it help Hangzhou develop its IT industry, while officials will encourage the use of genuine software by consumers, government agencies and enterprises.

“In partnering with the municipality of Hangzhou, we are taking a unique approach to improving the IPR (intellectual property rights) environment,” Alec Cooper, who helped develop the three-year deal at Microsoft, told reporters.

Counterfeiting is rampant in China. According to the Business Software Alliance, a US-based anti-piracy organisation, 82 percent of all personal computer software sold in China in 2007 was pirated.

Cooper said Microsoft and Hangzhou city would initiate steps such as rewarding enterprises that use legal software, and making sure all schools and PC shopping centres in the city are free from counterfeit software.

Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, is a major commercial hub in the Shanghai area.

“Hangzhou is the first step. What we see is the cities across China, when planning their economic future, are really focused on building up their knowledge economy, and we’d like to extend it,” Cooper said.

The agreement comes after Microsoft’s previous measure to try to reduce counterfeiting caused an outcry in China.

The Windows Genuine Advantage program turns computer desktops black every hour if the installed Windows XP operating system fails an authenticity validation test, and alerts the user.

But Chinese users labelled it “unfair” monopoly tactics, with some arguing that Microsoft software was too expensive in China for average incomes, which was why many resorted to pirates.

Cooper acknowledged Microsoft software was priced the same around the world.

“But we do have promotional pricing in China… and where that’s appropriate we certainly have tried to address that,” he said.

Source:China Tech News

Microsoft stands accused of patent infringement
April 10, 2009, 6:32 am
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Microsoft is accused on infringing on a Chinese RSS patent

Microsoft is accused on infringing on a Chinese RSS patent

While Microsoft aggressively fights software piracy in China, the US conglomerate is also involved in an intellectual property right violation lawsuit with a Chinese company.

The software giant suffered a strike in late February when the State Intellectual Property Office rejected its invalidation appeal to the patent in the dispute.

Information on the State Intellectual Property Office’s website indicates that the patent in question covers “an XML-based RSS (Really Simple Syndication) information interactive processing approach”, which uses RSS to syndicate XML-based files from blogs, websites and other Internet platforms.

E-commerce platform provider CECIT developed the processing approach to use RSS in its trade portal Free Trade Fair in 2005.

The company said Microsoft uses an XML-based RSS information interactive processing approach in the software operating system Windows Vista, which has been popularly sold in China as a successor of Windows XP, without a license agreement.

The Xi’an Intermediate People’s Court accepted the case and held the first court hearing in October.

The case is still in the evidence-collecting phase.

Source: China Daily