Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) garnered a huge coalition of corporations to support its Supreme Court patent battle with i4i, hoping that its case could lessen the burden of patent litigation for defendants. But briefs supporting its opponent that are now being circulated show that Microsoft failed to win the most important ally of all-the U.S. government. While the government could have chosen to stay out of the case altogether, it has filed a brief in favor of Microsoft’s opponent, i4i, a small Canadian software company that claims Microsoft Word infringes its patent.
i4i’s other supporters include companies that tend to find themselves on the plaintiff’s side of patent lawsuits. Speaking in broad strokes, Microsoft has the majority of tech companies supporting it, both software and hardware-and that includes major Microsoft rivals like Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). i4i, meanwhile, has support from trade groups representing the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, as well as some big manufacturers like General Motors, 3M, Caterpillar, and Du Pont.
The support of the U.S. Solicitor General, which can weigh in on Supreme Court cases, is no guarantee that i4i will win, but it’s a big boost to the small company’s case. A full list of the many friend-of-the-court briefs filed in this case, on both sides, is available at i4i’s website.