Patent News | "Aussie inventor settles with Microsoft in patent dispute"

Category : Patent News

Profile: The Aussie who beat Microsoft
Ric Richardson, the Australian "man in a van" who has been fighting Microsoft in an eight-year legal battle has settled with the software giant out of court in a deal that could potentially net hundreds of millions of dollars.

In April 2009, a United States court found Microsoft had used Richardson's patented anti-piracy technology without his knowledge or permission, and ordered the software giant to pay compensation of $US388 million (then worth more than $530 million). The award was one of the highest in US patent history.

The verdict was overturned five months later. But early last year an appeals court upheld the original jury's decision that Microsoft had infringed his patent and, up until last week, a trial was under way before a federal jury in Providence, Rhode Island, to determine how much Microsoft should now pay for infringing the patent.
But the trial was withdrawn by both parties as it got under way, with Microsoft spokesman David Cuddy telling Bloomberg News last week that the company that Richardson made the patent for, Uniloc, had reached a “final and mutually agreeable resolution” with Microsoft to end the dispute which begun in September 2003.
Richardson, 49, of Byron Bay in NSW, patented the technology designed to deter software piracy in the early 90s. He is a serial inventor with over 40 patents to his name and does much of his thinking in his van, which he dubs the "DickMobile", near his leafy property in Byron Bay.

He was made aware of the settlement on Tuesday morning last week, he said in a telephone interview. "I was sitting on the edge of the bed and I got this message that we had settled."
Richardson said he then rang Uniloc co-founder Craig Etchegoyen, who told him him he "ought to be happy".
The Byron Bay inventor added that he was eagerly awaiting to see what the deal meant for him in financial terms "like every shareholder" of Uniloc but insisted he was "never in it for the money".

"I was in it because the right thing needed to be done," he said. It's understood the deal is a licensing agreement between Microsoft and Uniloc, with Richardson saying the deal didn't involve a lump sum payment.
Intellectual property law expert Trevor Choy said the settlement would net Uniloc millions of dollars.
"The 2009 order of $US388 million sets a rough ceiling, and with an appeal factored in, we would probably look at low 9 figures," Mr Choy said.