updated 6/6/2005 7:03:42 PM ET 2005-06-06T23:03:42

A federal jury in California has slapped Microsoft Corp. with a nearly $9 million judgment in a patent infringement lawsuit filed by a Guatemalan inventor.

Carlos Amado, 50, sued the Redmond-based software maker in March 2003, claiming Microsoft infringed on a patent he received in 1994 for software linking the company's Excel spreadsheet and Access database programs.

Amado developed the program in 1990 and offered to sell it to Microsoft two years later, but the company declined, according to the law firm of Morrison & Foerster, which represented Amado.

Amado, who had sought $500 million in damages, alleged in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif., that Microsoft added an application that mimicked his software to the company's 1995 version of Office, the suite of programs that includes Excel and Access.

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An eight-person jury deliberated about two and a half days before reaching a verdict Friday, but federal Judge David Carter was out of town, so the decision was not announced until Monday.

Vince Belusko, Amado's lead attorney, called it "a classic David versus Goliath case."

"This is a great day to finally get the validation that my invention has value," Amado said in a statement released by his lawyers. "I am pleased that Microsoft has been forced to recognize this innovation as a useful and unique application that benefits their millions of users."

Microsoft maintains its own engineers started developing technology linking Excel and Access as early as 1989 and that it never infringed on Amado's patent.

"While today's verdict is disappointing, we are pleased that the jury rejected Mr. Amado's large damage claims," said Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake.

Drake said it was too early to tell whether Microsoft would appeal the verdict. The company has spent billions of dollars settling antitrust and patent-infringement claims in recent years.

The jury did not find that Microsoft's patent infringement was willful, as the plaintiff had argued.

The $8.96 million judgment Amado won was based on Microsoft's sales between March 1997 and July 2003. Belusko said the judge will determine how much Microsoft owes his client for software sales since July 2003.

Belusko also said Amado will be seeking a court order requiring Microsoft to remove or disable the software that links Excel and Access.

Drake said the company had no comment on Amado's plan to seek such an injunction, since it had not been briefed on those plans, but noted, "Microsoft will work very hard to ensure that there is no impact on our customers."

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