There has been a lawsuit going on between i4i and Microsoft over a claimed patent involving XML editing. Microsoft started using XML as the basis for their Office document file formats partially due to urges by world governments for a more open format. That last sentence has no bearing on this story, I just like pointing out irony.
The lawsuit has finally reached the Supreme Court where Microsoft will argue to the federal court against i4i. Unfortunately for Microsoft the government has failed an amicus brief against them:
The U.S. government is backing i4i in its case against Microsoft that the Supreme Court is expected to hear in April.
Acting Solicitor General Neal Kumar Katyal filed an amicus brief supporting a U.S. Court of Appeal decision and i4i’s position on Friday. The brief represents the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
This is a major argument I have against the court systems in this country, they are loaded with conflict of interest. Ultimately the Supreme Court represents the federal government thus having other agencies of the federal government file amicus briefs creates a conflict of interest. That’s not to say the Supreme Court hasn’t ruled against federal legislation in the past, they certainly have, but the potential exists.
The Supreme Court shouldn’t have been made as an arm of the federal government but instead as a completely separate entity. If i4i wins this case a claim of conflict of interest would be valid but alas could not be appealed. It certainly becomes an interesting scenario when you think about it.