Microsoft Foresees More Suits in Japan

A legal battle between Microsoft and Japanese anti-monopoly authorities is likely to conclude next year and might lead to lawsuits or other patent infringement complaints.

(Tokyo) A legal battle between Microsoft and Japanese anti-monopoly authorities is likely to conclude next year and might lead to lawsuits or other patent infringement complaints against the U.S. software company, an executive said Thursday.

Any such action will likely happen only in Japan, apply to Japanese patents filed in or before 2004, and won't affect U.S. patents, Microsoft Corp. Senior Vice President Brad Smith said during a trip to Tokyo.

The Fair Trade Commission, the nation's antitrust body, and Microsoft have been wrangling since 2004 over a controversial clause in licensing agreements.

The clause prevents companies from suing Microsoft over patent and copyright infringement if they suspect their own software technology has ended up in the Windows operating system.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, has repeatedly said the clause is lawful. It dropped the clause in 2004.

The commission has said it suspects the clause has helped Microsoft unlawfully infringe patents. Hearings have been held in Tokyo to look at the commission's and Microsoft's positions. Smith said a decision from the commission is expected in 2008.

The clause has so far prevented companies from bringing infringement complaints against Microsoft, said Smith, Microsoft's general counsel, who oversees policy on intellectual property and competition issues worldwide.

"Maybe they would have some new ability to raise that claim," including possible lawsuits against Microsoft and computer manufacturers, if the commission rejects Microsoft's view, he said.

Commission officials aren't certain any patents have been violated by Microsoft, and it is still unclear what the commission may decide.

Several Japanese electronics makers have complained about suspected infringements since December 2000.

Major Japanese manufacturers are partners with Microsoft, including Sony Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., which makes Panasonic brand products.


  • Microsoft Ups Its Windows 10 App Compatibility Assurances

    Microsoft gave assurances this week that organizations adopting Windows 10 likely won't face application compatibility issues.

  • SharePoint Online Users To Get 'Modern' UI Push in April

    Microsoft plans to alter some of the tenant-level blocking capabilities that may have been set up by organizations and deliver its so-called "modern" user interface (UI) to Lists and Libraries for SharePoint Online users, starting in April.

  • How To Use PowerShell Splatting

    Despite its weird name, splatting can be a really handy technique if you create a lot of PowerShell scripts.

  • New Microsoft Customer Agreement for Buying Azure Services To Start in March

    Microsoft will have a new approach for organizations buying Azure services called the "Microsoft Customer Agreement," which will be available for some customers starting as early as this March.

comments powered by Disqus
Most   Popular

Office 365 Watch

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.