E Unibus Plurum: Microsoft v. AT&T -- Testing the Reach of Section 271(f)

May 9, 2007
Marriott York, NY
The presentation explores the extra-territorial reach of the U.S. Patent Laws, which impose infringement liability on persons who export from the U.S. one or more "components" of a U.S. patented combination invention, intending or knowing that the component(s) will be used in the foreign country to assemble the combination. The Supreme Court now has the issue squarely before it, in a case where it was held by the Federal Circuit that Microsoft's Windows program, when loaded on to a computer, contained portions which infringed a U.S. patent of AT&T. Microsoft was additionally held liable for infringement, under 35 U.S.C. Section 271(f), for each foreign-made computer sold with Windows, even though Microsoft's activities involved exporting only a single or a few "master disks" containing the program, which disks never themselves become part of any computer, but which foreign computer manufacturers then used multiple times for downloading the program onto the computers sold by them.