Toronto-based i4i is up against giant Microsoft in a patent dispute that the small Canadian software company likes to explain in down-to-earth terms.

 

“Think of it as we invited them into our house, we went to the fridge and pulled out a beer,” i4i founder Michael Vulpe said in an interview from Toronto.

“They saw where the fridge was, where the beer was and they just knocked us out of the way and stole all the beer.”

In more legalistic terms, i4i has argued successfully in court that Microsoft knowingly violated a U.S.-issued patent owned by i4i because of the way that the widely used Word word-processing program handles documents. The two companies are back in court in the United States today in a case that started in 2007 and has seen more than $30 million spent on the dispute. The patent infringement case involves some versions of Microsoft Word 2003 and Word 2007 that use i4i's technology to process electronic documents.

Microsoft is appealing a recent ruling by a Texas judge that says it infringed on i4i’s patents and ordered the U.S. software giant to pay i4i $290 million US.