Infrastructure // Unified Communications
News
8/6/2007
11:38 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%
Repost This

Microsoft Avoids Paying $1.5 Billion To Alcatel-Lucent, For Now

A U.S. judge calls the jury's decision "against the clear weight of the evidence" in a case over two MP3 digital music patents.

Finding that a jury's decision was "against the clear weight of the evidence," a judge on Monday set aside a record $1.53 billion verdict against Microsoft for allegedly infringing on two MP3 digital music patents held by Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent.

In overturning the February verdict, Judge Rudi Brewster, of U.S. District Court in San Diego, said that Microsoft's Windows Media Player does not infringe on one of the patents and found that the software maker had already licensed the other patent from a co-developer of the technology.

Brewster's rulings left open the possibility that Microsoft could face new trials in the case.

In a statement, Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith called Brewster's decision "a victory for consumers." Officials for Alcatel-Lucent called the ruling "shocking and disturbing."

Brewster's findings doubtless sent sighs of relief through the ranks of other manufacturers of MP3-related products as it lessens the chance they'll face a similar suit from Alcatel-Lucent.

Brewster overturned the jury's finding that the so-called backup HQ encoder on Windows Media player violated Alcatel-Lucent's claim to U.S. patent 5,341,457, which governs the "perceptual coding of audio signals." Brewster, in his 43-page decision, noted that, "Even Lucent's expert... testified that he had never observed the HQ encoder running."

Brewster also found that Microsoft had licensed for $16 million the second patent at issue -- U.S. patent RE 39,080 -- from Fraunhofer Gesellschaft of Germany, which co-developed the technology in concert with Lucent's former corporate parent AT&T. RE 39,080 is for a "rate loop processor for perceptual encoder-decoder."

Finally, Brewster said the jury erred when it awarded damages and royalties using a formula based on the number of Windows-based computers Microsoft sold during the period of alleged infringements. Brewster said there was no evidence to indicate that "the patented features themselves produced any customer demand or value of the product."

Alcatel-Lucent said it plans to appeal.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Building A Mobile Business Mindset
Among 688 respondents, 46% have deployed mobile apps, with an additional 24% planning to in the next year. Soon all apps will look like mobile apps and it's past time for those with no plans to get cracking.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Elite 100 - 2014
Our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue -- our 26th ranking of technology innovators -- shines a spotlight on businesses that are succeeding because of their digital strategies. We take a close at look at the top five companies in this year's ranking and the eight winners of our Business Innovation awards, and offer 20 great ideas that you can use in your company. We also provide a ranked list of our Elite 100 innovators.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Audio Interviews
Archived Audio Interviews
GE is a leader in combining connected devices and advanced analytics in pursuit of practical goals like less downtime, lower operating costs, and higher throughput. At GIO Power & Water, CIO Jim Fowler is part of the team exploring how to apply these techniques to some of the world's essential infrastructure, from power plants to water treatment systems. Join us, and bring your questions, as we talk about what's ahead.