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July 31, 2008

Not Mousing Around

Microsoft asserting patents is as rare as hens teeth. But Wednesday Microsoft filed a complaint at the ITC against Primax Electronics of Taiwan, over seven mouse patents. One portfolio, dubbed "U2," is for connecting a mouse to either a USB or PS/2 port. 6,460,094 is exemplary. Microsoft claims that over 20 companies have licensed this portfolio. Belkin had to be slapped over U2, but settled. Another asserted patent, 7,199,785, is for Microsoft's mouse four-way tilt wheel.

Microsoft spokesman Horacio Gutierrez:

We've over two years repeatedly approached them, to engage in good-faith negotiations, and they've just refused to have any meaningful conversations. There isn't a question of the validity of the patents. There isn't an argument of non-infringement. They've just refused to have the conversation.

Microsoft also plans to file in U.S. district court, seeking damages. The ITC can only stop importation of infringing products.

Microsoft is an innovator in mouse technology, and makes some of the best mice available, though their designs are sometimes flawed ergonomically. The NaturalĀ® Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 (pictured), for example, is so heavy it's like shoving a little brick around. By contrast, the Wireless Optical Mouse 5000 is quite sweet, and has been this writer's choice for years.

Posted by Patent Hawk at July 31, 2008 9:58 PM | Patents In Business