The US Patent and Trademark Office confirmed a patent held by i4i that has been at the heart of a dispute with Microsoft.
Microsoft has already had to remove a feature from Word 2007 and has been ordered to pay more than US$240 million in damages due to the ongoing battle over the technology.
I4i said on Tuesday that in late April the patent office issued a Notice of Intent to Issue Ex Parte Reexamination Certificate regarding the decision on the patent. That means the patent office will soon issue a Reexamination Certificate "which will formally conclude the reexamination proceeding favorably for i4i", the company said in a statement.
I4i's patent covers technology that lets people create custom XML documents. Last year the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ruled that Microsoft had to stop selling products that used i4i's technology. Since then the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has twice refused Microsoft's requests to reconsider the case.
Should Microsoft decide to continue to pursue the case, its next stop would be the US Supreme Court.
"We are disappointed, but there still remain important matters of patent law at stake, and we are considering our options to get them addressed, including a petition to the Supreme Court," says Kevin Kutz, a Microsoft spokesman.