Microsoft Faces More Patent Problems

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft sure is having some difficulty with this whole patent business.

While the company struggles to calm a stormy sea caused by CEO Steve Ballmer's statement that recent partner Novell is infringing on Microsoft's intellectual property, it appears the software giant must now face the loss of patent rights in South Korea, a major Asian market.

The problem stems from court cases dating back months, which recently reached a very unfavorable decision for the Redmond-based company.

The patent infringement -- in this case -- surrounds a local university professor's claims that he first developed an input mode between Korean and English in MS Office. The patent was first awarded to Lee Keung-Hae in 1997, nearly a decade ago. (source:

Keung-Hae first filed a complaint against Microsoft at the turn of the century. When MS' legal eagles sunk their talons into the case, it delayed any decision for years. As the decision crept closer, it became more and more apparent that the result would not favor Microsoft.

Lawyers for the Korean professor are asking that the courts demand an immediate withdrawal of Office from retail shelves. If that isn't bad enough for Microsoft's business in the region (especially with Vista set to launch soon), Keung-Hae and his legal representation also believe he is due monetary compensation, to the tune of some $70 billion.

This isn't the first time Microsoft has experience legal problems in South Korea. A year ago it battled the country's legal system over antitrust concerns regarding a bundling of the Windows Media service within the company's operating system. At the time, even President Bush defended Microsoft. (source:

In this case, there aren't any indicators that George W. will support MS. Still, as one might expect Microsoft is not about to roll over and die. The company has vowed that it will fight this massively painful decision for some time, already launching its own lawsuit citing further evidence.

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