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Expert: Top Court May Favor M'soft Over AT&T

By Robin Knight
Wednesday, 21 Feb 2007 | 12:30 PM ET

The battle between software giants Microsoft and AT&T rumbles on, as Microsoft prepares to defend itself in front of the U.S. Supreme Court against AT&T’s claim that its patent has been infringed. The outcome of this latest step, which rests on a technicality involving outsourcing, will be hugely significant in the case that will make the difference of billions of dollars to the software industry.

The issue in question is whether Microsoft can be held liable for violating an overseas AT&T patent, which covers technology that converts speech into computer code.

Patent Battle
Discussing whether a company should be held liable for violating a U.S. patent overseas, with Melvin Garner, Darby & Darby intellectual property attorney; Barry Cohen, Thorp, Reed & Armstrong partner & intellectual property/patent lawyer and CNBC's Becky Quick

“I think we can expect the Supreme Court to rule in favor of Microsoft,” Edward Reines, patent attorney at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, said on “Squawk Box.” He added, “There has been a trend of the Federal Circuit being reversed. There’s also a trend of the Supreme Court becoming increasingly skeptical about the strength of patents.”

The law that the case depends upon is a provision in patent law, which came into effect in 1984. It is designed to stop companies from by-passing patent laws by sending product parts offshore for assembly.

Whichever side wins the Supreme Court ruling, which is expected in July, a landmark decision will have been reached.

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