(AFP) – Sep 25, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) — A US appeals court ruled Thursday that US computer software giant Microsoft does not have to pay French-US telecom firm Alcatel-Lucent 1.5 billion dollars in a patent infringement case.
The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in a 25-page ruling, upheld the August 2007 decision of a lower court that Microsoft did not violate MP3 digital audio patents in its Windows Media Player software.
"We affirm the district court's dismissal of the infringement claims," the court said.
The appeals court agreed with the district court in southern California that Microsoft did not infringe one patent and had paid Munich-based licensing firm Fraunhofer Gesellschaft 16 million dollars to legally use another.
The firm then known only as Lucent filed a 15-patent suit in 2003 against computer makers Dell and Gateway for allegedly selling machines with Microsoft software that used Lucent technology without permission.
Microsoft weighed into the case to protect its partnerships with computer makers and to stop the litigation from being broadened to other companies using Microsoft software.
In 2007, a jury awarded a then-record 1.5 billion dollars in damages to Alcatel-Lucent but the verdict was overturned later that year by a US District Court based in San Diego, California.
Tom Burt, Microsoft corporate vice president and deputy general counsel, welcomed Thursday's ruling.
"The Federal Circuit's ruling is a victory for consumers of digital music and a triumph for common sense in the patent system," he said.
In April, a jury in San Diego ordered Microsoft to pay Alcatel-Lucent 367.4 million dollars in a partial victory for the French-US firm in its complex patent infringement litigation with the Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft.
Microsoft is appealing that ruling.
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