A US federal court on Tuesday overthrew an earlier ruling in a patent-infringement case that would have seen Microsoft pay $388 million in damages to Uniloc. The case involves the activation technologies Microsoft uses in products such as Windows and Office.

Uniloc's case against Microsoft has been ongoing since September 2003, when it sued the software giant for infringing on its patent for an anti-piracy registration system. The case has seen its share of weird twists and turns, and it looked as if Microsoft had earned a summary judgment in mid-2008. But in August 2008, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington sent the case back for further review. A trial began in March 2009, and Microsoft was slapped with a $388 million verdict in April.

Now comes another twist. US District Judge William Smith vacated the previous verdict, noting that the jury who awarded damages "lacked a grasp of the issues before it and reached a finding without a legally sufficient basis." And this case could be in for more twists: Uniloc can appeal the current verdict and, if it wins, Microsoft would have the right to a new trial.

On an on it goes.