A federal judge has given a significant boost to InterTrust Technology Corp.'s patent infringement claims against Microsoft Corp., accepting InterTrust's definitions of critical terminology and chastising Microsoft for failing to substantiate many of its arguments.
The two companies compete in the market for anti-piracy technology -- in particular, software to protect digital music, movies and other goods delivered electronically. But with Microsoft winning far more customers for its digital-rights management tools, Santa Clara, Calif.-based InterTrust has shifted its focus to licensing and enforcing its patents.
U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong issued a preliminary ruling July 3, interpreting 31 terms and phrases from 12 representative claims within the InterTrust patents. She defined each term as InterTrust had proposed with little or no alteration, effectively giving those claims the broad reach sought by InterTrust.
The judge has yet to decide whether InterTrust's 11 patents were violated by Microsoft's products, including its recent operating systems, productivity programs, digital media player and Xbox game console. But two independent patent attorneys said her ruling could make it easier for InterTrust to prove its case.