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China court rules against Microsoft in licensing infringement case

[JURIST] The China Beijing No 1 Intermediary Court ruled on Monday that US software giant Microsoft [corporate website] had infringed upon the patent rights of local Chinese company Zhongyi Electronic [corporate website]. Zhongyi Electronic provided Chinese fonts for Microsoft to use in its Windows 1995 program, and claims that Microsoft had no right to continue using those fonts in later programs such as Windows 1998, 2000, 2003, and XP. Windows must now cease the sale [Financial Times report] of all those programs in China. Microsoft, which says that its intellectual property agreements with Zhongyi Electronic extended beyond the Windows 1995 deal, will appeal the ruling [Reuters report]. China has been long been criticized by the US government [JURIST report] for a "lax" intellectual property enforcement system.

Microsoft's legal difficulties outside the United States are nothing new. In June 2008, China opened an anti-monopoly investigation into Microsoft and other software companies [JURIST report]. In February 2008, the European Commission (EC) fined Microsoft 899 million euros [decision, PDF; press release] for failing to comply with a 2004 order [PDF text; JURIST report] requiring the company to share technical information with competitors. In response to the European decision and other judgments, the corporation has instituted an Antitrust Compliance Committee [official website]. In January 2008, the European Commission began an investigation [JURIST report] into new allegations that Microsoft has misused its market position. Last month, Microsoft announced it had filed an appeal [JURIST report] with the European Court of First Instance [official website], seeking to annul the fine.

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