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Microsoft looses battle over digital music patent

May 3, 2007

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A US federal judge signed off on a $1.53 billion (€1.13 billion) jury verdict in favor of Alcatel-Lucent SA in a digital music patent dispute against Microsoft Corp.

Although during the trial Microsoft disputed that Alcatel-Lucent’s patents govern its MP3 encoding and decoding tools and said it licenses the MP3 software used by its Windows Media Player from Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a German company, U.S. District Court Judge Rudi M. Brewster concluded Microsoft’s Windows Media Player software infringed on patents owned by Lucent Technologies Inc.

Lucent Technologies is a U.S. telecommunications equipment maker acquired last year by France-based Alcatel. Lucent-Alcatel spokeswoman Mary Lou Ambrus has already stated the company was pleased with Brewster’s ruling on its case.

“Alcatel-Lucent views its intellectual property as a vital asset and will continue to preserve and defend these assets,” she said.

In 2003, Lucent filed 15 patent claims against Gateway Inc. and Dell Inc. for technology developed by Bell Labs, its research arm. Later that year, in April, Microsoft added itself to the list of defendants, saying the patents were closely tied to its Windows operating system.

Microsoft spokesman Guy Esnouf reported the company would challenge the ruling during a June 20 hearing, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this week in favor of Microsoft in a patent lawsuit brought by AT&T. The company claimed computers running the Windows operating system infringe on AT&T technology for a digital speech coder system.

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