Software // Enterprise Applications
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8/8/2007
08:41 AM
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Microsoft's Court Battles With Alcatel-Lucent Far From Over

Alcatel-Lucent initially filed six related actions against Microsoft in federal court in San Diego alleging that Microsoft products infringe on patents it holds.

Despite a judge's overturning of a jury's order that Microsoft pay Alcatel-Lucent $1.5 billion for patent infringements, the software maker must still clear a number of hurdles if it's to put its legal battles with the Paris-based networking and telecom equipment company fully behind it.

"This is not the end," a Microsoft spokesman said Tuesday of a U.S. District Court judge's decision to toss the record verdict.

Indeed, Alcatel-Lucent initially filed six related actions against Microsoft in federal court in San Diego alleging that Microsoft's Windows Media Player, Messenger and other products infringe on patents it holds relating to MP3 music reproduction and speech recognition.

Judge Rudi Brewster effectively dismissed the first case on Monday in a ruling that Alcatel-Lucent called "shocking and disturbing." The company has said it will appeal, setting the stage for several more months' worth of legal haggling around that case alone. Brewster's ruling stipulates that if his decision is overturned by a higher court, new trials must be held and damage calculations reset to zero.

The second and third cases, which focused mostly on speech recognition and user interface patterns, have also been dismissed. One of them, however, was successfully reintroduced by Alcatel-Lucent. The three remaining cases, which will center around patents relating to user interfaces and video reproduction, are scheduled for trial in February.

A wholly separate case filed in the San Diego federal district involves one patent owned by Alcatel-Lucent and 10 Microsoft patents that are the subject of suits and countersuits between the two companies.

Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent are also issuing claims against each other in other jurisdictions.

Microsoft has dragged Alcatel-Lucent before the International Trade Commission in a case that is scheduled to be heard in October. In that case, Microsoft is claiming that Alcatel-Lucent is infringing on its patents that govern unified communications products.

Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent have also filed patent claims against each other in federal court in Texas.

Microsoft's spokesman concedes that the company's legal battles against its courtroom nemesis are far from over, but added that Brewster's ruling Monday is nonetheless significant to the company. "There are 1.5 billion reasons why it's important," the spokesman said.

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