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4/4/2007
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Agere Systems Sues Microsoft Over Internet Phone Technology

Agere claims Microsoft stole its stereophonic acoustic echo cancellation technology, which helps improve the sound of telephone calls made over the Internet and via conference calling systems.

Agere Systems, the former Bell Labs research arm of telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent, has filed a lawsuit against Microsoft alleging that the software maker stole key technology used in Internet telephony.

Agere claims that its researchers held meetings with Microsoft officials in 2002 and 2003 to pitch Agere's stereophonic acoustic echo cancellation technology, which helps improve the sound of telephone calls made over the Internet and via conference calling systems.

"Just as the parties were about to execute a significant licensing and technology transfer agreement, Microsoft abruptly terminated the negotiations, proclaiming that it had a 'breakthrough' in its own undisclosed development effort," Agere said in a complaint filed last month in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania.

Agere claims it was no coincidence that the "breakthrough" was made "by the very Microsoft research engineers who had been reviewing proprietary Agere materials for the previous year." When Agere asked for the return of its research materials, Microsoft sent back an empty compact disk, Agere maintains.

Agere is seeking unspecified damages. Microsoft has yet to respond to the allegations in court.

The suit isn't the first legal tussle involving Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent. The telecom equipment manufacturer is suing Microsoft over alleged patent violations. Microsoft has countersued. Microsoft also is facing a lawsuit that claims the company's "Windows Vista-ready" marketing campaign misled consumers.

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