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Microsoft patent case stirs software export fears
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Written by Gizmo   
Wednesday, 21 February 2007 08:32

It's not every day that both the U.S. government and advocates of free and open-source software align themselves in court with Microsoft.

Read the full story at CNET: 

But a high-stakes patent case, set to be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday morning, has attracted a slew of briefs supporting the Windows maker's stance in a complex battle with AT&T over rules governing software code exported to foreign locales.

The question boils down to whether American software makers are required to pay up for infringing on U.S. patents based not only on the number of software copies they supply on their home turf, but also on copies that foreign manufacturers make abroad.

An obscure section of federal patent law prohibits American companies from shipping boxes of parts to foreign manufacturers that could combine them to make a machine that infringes on U.S. patents. It does not, however, restrict sending blueprints that could theoretically prompt a foreign company to concoct an identical product. Those siding with Microsoft argue that the "golden master" disks shipped abroad, containing software to be copied and installed on computers there, are mere blueprints, immune from patent liability.

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