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 from 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.

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