The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to consider whether Microsoft Corp. should have to pay damages overseas for infringing a speech recognition software patent owned by AT&T Inc.
The high court granted Microsoft’s petition to review an appeals court ruling that held AT&T could seek royalties based on the foreign manufacture and sale of infringing software products.
The Microsoft-AT&T dispute is one of the most important patent cases that will come before the court this year and could determine the reach of U.S. patents overseas, experts said.
The case raises “the question of how far downstream you can go in capturing damages in the chain of commerce,” said Stephen Maebius, a patent lawyer with the firm Foley & Lardner LLP.
At issue is a ruling last year that upheld a lower court decision that Microsoft was liable for infringing an AT&T patent for converting speech into computer code in copies of Windows sold overseas.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said the world’s largest software maker was liable for the unauthorized distribution of codec technology, used to compress speech signals into data, in copies of Windows overseas.