US software giant Microsoft has to stand a trial in China for illegally using a patent input method editor in its Window systems for a decade.
China Youth Daily reported the supreme who has been calling for constant crackdown in China on pirated software for years, was brought to the First People's Intermediate Court in Beijing by Zhongyi Electronic Ltd, the owner of the Zheng Code input method. The case appeared amid the latest spate of criticism from the U.S. over China's intellectual property rights (IPR) protection.
David Bohigian, US Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance, blamed China for its slow progress in the area during his visit in the country earlier this month, urging the Chinese government to help build up trust between companies in the two countries with stricter law enforcement.
Microsoft signed a contract with the Beijing-based firm in 1995 on the combination of the Chinese character input software and a related database into its operating systems, Windows 3.2 and the milestone product, Windows 95.
The two sides failed to extend the deal later but the US company continued to install the input method in its subsequent systems Windows 98, 2000 and XP without paying any fee, the report said.
Zhongyi filed the case to the court in April 2007, but a lack of evidence delayed the trial, which was held on January 15 this year behind close doors at the request of MS.
In response, Microsoft appealed to a reexamination committee under China's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) to annul the patent as it alleged no creativity included in the code and required the court to halt the trial.
A postponed hearing was held by the SIPO on December 20, but no instant result was available.
Both companies declined to give further comment on the case in interviews with the newspaper. MS reiterated its respect for the IPR and said it would only use a third-party product in legal ways.
The Zheng Code Input Method, invented by a notable dictionary editor Zheng Yili and his daughter, was presented with the patent in 1989. The Zhongyi company was authorized by the authors in 1992 to use the product for further development.
(CRI January 21, 2008)