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M$ fined $9 million for patent infringement

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Microsoft has been ordered to pay $9 million for infringing a spreedsheet patent with Excel.

The jury in a Californian court awarded $8.96 million to Guatemalan inventor Carlos Amado who had sued the software giant for infringing his patent on software for linking Microsoft's Excel and Access applications through a single spreadsheet.

Amado filed for a patent on the technology in 1990 and approached Microsoft with it in 1992, said Amado's attorney, Vincent Belusko. The first infringing versions of the software appeared in 1995. Amado had sought about $400 million.

The verdict on Monday covered damages up to 31 July 2003. The court now has to consider damages from August 2003 to the present, but the additional amount will probably be less than what has already been awarded, according to Belusko.

"He wanted to be validated that this was his idea, that someone took it. I think he feels validated," Belusko said.

Microsoft said it was reviewing the verdict and other matters related to the case. "Microsoft began developing this technology as early as 1989. It was developed by our own engineers based on our own pre-existing technology," a spokesman claimed.

By Stephen Lawson,
IDG News Service

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