Court rules against Microsoft in China font case

November 17, 2009
A man passes under the logo of software company Microsoft at a trade fair in Germany. A Chinese court has found the US software giant guilty of infringing a Chinese company's intellectual property rights by including certain fonts in its operating systems, according to a court judgement.

A Chinese court has ruled Microsoft Corp. infringed a Chinese company's intellectual property rights by including certain fonts in its operating systems, the companies confirmed Tuesday.

Beijing's No.1 Intermediate People's Court found had exceeded the scope of a previous agreement to use and sell fonts owned by Zhongyi Electronic Ltd, Lan Fei, a spokeswoman of Beijing-based company told AFP.

The decision came during US President Barack Obama's visit to China and at a sensitive time in the trade relationship between the two countries. The US has been pressing China for tougher law enforcement.

However, Microsoft said in a statement that it disagreed with the Monday-dated court ruling.

"We plan to appeal the decision for the Zhongyi fonts case," Microsoft said.

"Microsoft respects ... We believe our license agreements with the plaintiff cover our use of the fonts."

Zhongyi said the court agreed Microsoft installed and used the fonts in eight of its operating systems without its express permission and had ordered the US company to stop selling those operating systems in China.

The spokeswoman said the company was studying the ruling and could seek compensation from Microsoft for damages.

"The case dragged on for a long time and the scale and impact of the case was very large. It involves a large figure. We are still checking and studying the form and amount (of the compensation)," Lan said.

The case, which was filed in April 2007, does not appear to affect Microsoft's latest operating systems, including Windows 7, which went on sale last month.

The court rejected Zhongyi's claim that Microsoft's use of Zhengma software, which enables computer users to type Chinese characters using Western keyboards, also violated its intellectual property rights.

(c) 2009 AFP

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