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BOSTON � Rhode Island federal Judge William E. Smith declined to recuse himself from a patent infringement case against Microsoft Corp. because of an unpaid judicial intern’s ties to the company. In a June 14 decision, Smith wrote that the intern has no conflict of interest and he refused to recuse himself “four years into this complicated patent case.” Uniloc USA Inc. v. Microsoft Corp., No. 03-440 (D.R.I.). The intern, a law school student who was close to finishing a Ph.D. in computer sciences at Brown University when Smith hired him this spring, had received royalties for co-authoring programming guides published by Microsoft Press. The intern’s most recent royalties totaled $3.97 in February and $8.67 in August 2006, according to the judge’s decision. The intern had also previously written for Microsoft Systems Journal and his graduate work was also indirectly financed by a Microsoft research grant received by the university. In his decision, Smith noted that the intern’s association with the case would be short-lived and that he would directly report to one of Smith’s clerks. “The short of the matter is that the recusal statute does not permit me to recuse myself from a case, however tedious and complex, based on my intern’s relationship with one of the parties when that relationship is weak, remote and separate from the issues in dispute,” Smith wrote. Uniloc, which has moved to Irvine, Calif., from Providence, R.I., claims that Microsoft’s anti-piracy and product-activation technology products violate its system’s software-registration patent. Uniloc filed its recusal motion on May 11. Dean G. Bostock, a Boston intellectual property member of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo who represents Uniloc, declined to comment. Isabella E. Fu, a lawyer at Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, also declined to comment.

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