The story of the new man’s lawsuit is a bit like one of those old jokes that everybody loves to tell: A man wants to sue his cat for negligence. As you may have heard, there was a case regarding a dog that fell into a trash can. The owner of the cat sued the company that put the dog in the trash can, and won. The court decided that the owner could sue for personal injury because the dog had fallen into a trash can. The problem with this story is that it’s completely absurd. Now we’ll talk about the new man’s lawsuit.
Newman’s own Lawsuit
The plaintiff in this new lawsuit is suing Microsoft for violating patents related to the way they designed their operating system. This suits someone who was not involved in the design process, and did not have a chance to be part of the process. There is no question that a computer program is a unique creation, but so is a house, and the owners of these creations should not be held responsible for someone else’s mistakes. If the plaintiff wins his suit against Microsoft, they will get a huge settlement. However, this settlement will come out of the blue, and there will be no checks coming home. So, is this really a personal injury attorney’s dream?
First, let’s talk about what sort of a lawyer for the plaintiff will need.
In the new man’s lawsuit, the plaintiff’s lawyer is described as a “personal injury attorney” that handles patent issues. While this is the best description of a patent attorney, the reality is that lawyers do not specialize in patents. A patent attorney might be the right legal expert for an invention, but he or she would not be appropriate for a computer program patent. Moreover, a good patent lawyer will not be cheap. It costs thousands of dollars to get through patent court.
Therefore, does the new man have a right to sue Microsoft under the Federal False Claims Act?
The answer is yes. The reason why a personal injury attorney is needed is because he or she will know exactly what to ask the jury about. Basically, the jurors will be expected to determine whether or not Microsoft intended to design the software as a “system” to do something. If the jury finds that Microsoft was not intending to make any modifications to its software, then the plaintiff has won. Otherwise, the plaintiff will lose.
On the other hand, if the jury concludes that Microsoft designed the software and it infringes upon the patent, then Microsoft is guilty of patent infringement.
To prove this, a plaintiff will have to show that not only did the original patent infringe upon the patent owned by Microsoft, but that Microsoft has continued to license the software even after it was found to infringe. This is actually pretty easy to do when you hire a good patent attorney. You don’t even have to prove that Microsoft knew the patent was infringed upon; the patent must be found to infringe in some way.
So, what does this all mean for the future of software and innovation in general?
If we are to continue to see the creation of incredible software, we need to ensure that we are protecting the rights of those individuals who have come up with these ideas. If Microsoft can win the first case in California against Microsoft, they might be able to patent software across the country. Unfortunately, this might just be the beginning, as there could be many similar lawsuits pending against other companies who might infringe upon someone else’s idea.