Microsoft must pay $1.52 billion for infringing on two
Alcatel-Lucent patents involving MP3, a San Diego federal jury ruled today.
This is the first of six patent lawsuits brought by Paris-based telecom
equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent.
Microsoft intends to “seek relief from the trial court, and if necessary
The lawsuit contends that Microsoft violated Alcatel-Lucent’s
patents with its use of MP3 technology used to play music on Windows Media
Player. Microsoft’s argument is that it legally licensed MP3 technology from
the Fraunhofer Institute for $16 million.
“We think this verdict is completely unsupported by the law
or the facts,” said Tom Burt, a Microsoft deputy general counsel. “We believe
that we properly licensed MP3 technology from its industry recognized licenser
- Fraunhofer. The damages award seems particularly outrageous when you consider
we paid Fraunhofer only $16 million to license this technology.”
“We have made strong
arguments supporting our view, and we are pleased with the court's decision,” said
an Alcatel-Lucent spokeswoman.
This lawsuit stretches back to 2003, when Lucent filed 15
patent claims against Gateway and Dell. Microsoft later agreed to replace those
defendants, saying it got involved because the patents were closely tied to its
Windows operating system, reports Reuters.
MP3 isn’t the only technology that Alcatel-Lucent is suing
Microsoft for patent infringement. In November 2006, Alcatel-Lucent filed a
lawsuit against Microsoft for infringement of seven
video technology patents, likely because of the Xbox 360.