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Does U.S. patent law travel?

Alisa Roth Feb 21, 2007


SCOTT JAGOW: Are you, uh, ready to rumble? Two corporate heavyweights will go toe-to-toe before the Supreme Court this morning. It’s Microsoft versus AT&T. Sounds like it could be a dramatic battle. But to be honest, it’ll be lawyers talking about patents. Still, the case could have repercussions for a lot of companies, so Alisa Roth is going to explain it to us.

ALISA ROTH: It’s like this: Microsoft Windows includes software to record sound files. AT&T says it owns the patent for that sound technology and Microsoft is infringing on that patent by using it.

The two companies already settled an infringement case in the U.S. Now, though, AT&T would like Microsoft to pay for infringement overseas.

Dan Ravicher directs the Public Patent Foundation, a non-profit that represents the public interest in the patent system.

DAN RAVICHER: The significance is how far U.S. patent law extends to international behavior.

He says if the court rules in favor of AT&T, it would essentially be say U.S. patent law holds everywhere.

RAVICHER: If you ask yourself how you would feel if Russian patent law was applied to activities that occurred here in the United States, I don’t think we would like that very much.

Some say this case could have wide-ranging implications-even forcing companies to move product development to countries with less stringent laws.

In New York, I’m Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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