$1.5 billion patent suit overturned in favor of Microsoft

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$1.5 billion patent suit overturned in favor of Microsoft

Redmond (WA) – Microsoft is breathing a sigh of relief today, as a federal judge overturned an earlier ruling that would have forced the software giant to pay $1.5 billion to Alcatel-Lucent.

In a dispute over MP3 technologies, Southern California District Court Judge Rudi Brewster said Microsoft was not guilty of infringing patents owned by Alcatel-Lucent, and reversed the decision that Microsoft needed to pay over a billion dollars in damages.

Microsoft was ordered to pay $1.5 billion to Alcatel-Lucent in February as a result of a jury trial.  The plaintiff claimed that Microsoft infringed on two of its patents.  

Brewster said in one of the cases, the outcome was just wrong and Microsoft did not infringe on the patent, and in the other case the software giant got off on a technicality because Alcatel-Lucent failed to name a co-owner of the patent in the suit.  Microsoft partner Fraunhofer, a European research firm, had a stake in the patent so the US court did not have jurisdiction in the case.

Alcatel-Lucent is understandably upset at this turn of events.  “This reversal of the judge’s own pre-trial and post-trial rulings is shocking and disturbing, especially since — after a three-week trial and four days of careful deliberation — the jury unanimously agreed with us, and we believe their decision should stand,” said the company in a statement.

IDGNS reports Alcatel-Lucent has appealed this new ruling, which could lead to a change in the company’s sought damages.