Jessica Mintz for the AP reports on the big punch landed by Alcatel today in the long running patent fight with occasional partner, Microsoft:
Microsoft Corp. must pay $1.5 billion in damages to telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent SA for violating two patents related to digital music, a federal jury ruled Thursday.
The Redmond, Wash.-based software company said the patents in question govern the conversion of audio into the digital MP3 file format on personal computers.
In 2003, Lucent Technologies Inc., which last year was acquired by Alcatel, filed 15 patent claims against Gateway Inc. and Dell Inc. In April 2003, Microsoft added itself to the list of defendants, saying the patents were closely tied to its Windows operating system. The PC makers are still defendants.
Microsoft said a judge threw out two of the 2003 patent claims, and scheduled six separate trials to consider the remaining disputes. The case that was just decided went to trial in San Diego on Jan. 29.
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.
Microsoft also got in a jab of its own earlier in the week when it was reported that they filed a new patent lawsuit and international trade complaint against Alcatel-Lucent:
Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker, filed a complaint Feb. 16 in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, and on the same day filed a trade complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington. Both accuse Alcatel-Lucent, the world’s biggest maker of telecommunications equipment, of infringing four patents and seek a halt to sales.
“We are seeking to stop the future importation of unlicensed Alcatel-Lucent products into the United States until Alcatel-Lucent has taken an appropriate license,” Guy Esnouf, a Microsoft spokesman, said in a statement.
The Delaware lawsuit and trade commission complaint target Alcatel-Lucent’s OmniTouch software and related computer servers that let users get voice mail, e-mail and faxes through one system. Microsoft claims Alcatel-Lucent is using Microsoft’s patented technology to compete with products such as its Communicator software.
Microsoft could be able to block imports of Lucent products from the trade commission case and could get cash compensation from the civil suit.