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MS caught stealing, cries foul!
Written by Daniel   
Friday, 23 February 2007 07:54
Microsoft hit with $1.5 billion patent verdict
By Ina Fried
Staff Writer, CNET
Published: February 22, 2007, 1:16 PM PST

update A federal jury in San Diego has ordered Microsoft to pay $1.5 billion to Alcatel-Lucent in a patent dispute over MP3 audio technology used in Windows.

In its verdict, the jury assessed damages based on each Windows PC sold since May 2003. The case could have broader implications, should Alcatel-Lucent pursue claims against other companies that use the widespread MP3 technology.

A jury has ordered Microsoft to cough up $1.5 billion in a case brought by Alcatel-Lucent alleging Windows infringes on patents related to MP3 audio technology.

An Alcatel-Lucent representative praised the ruling.

"We made strong arguments supporting our view, and we're pleased with the court's decision," spokeswoman Mary Lou Ambrus said.

In a statement, Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Tom Burt said the software titan believes that the verdict "is completely unsupported by the law or the facts."

"We will seek relief from the trial court, and if necessary, appeal," Burt said.

The company also noted that roughly half of the damages are for overseas sales of Windows, which could be affected by a separate patent case. That case, currently before the Supreme Court, deals with whether overseas sales of software products should be subject to U.S. patent law.

Microsoft said it believes that it properly licensed MP3 technology from Fraunhofer, paying that company $16 million. Fraunhofer, which helped develop the MP3 compression technology along with Lucent's Bell Labs, has licensed its intellectual property to companies that want to use the audio format in their products. Fraunhofer has since handed the MP3-licensing duties over to Thomson.

Scores of technology companies, including Apple, Intel and Texas Instruments, license the MP3 technology, according to Thomson's An Apple representative declined to comment on the verdict.... More 

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