Microsoft to Pay $70 Million to Alcatel in Patent Judgement

By Joseph Mandour on August 1, 2011

monitor-thumb-200x150-33963 California – A federal jury in San Diego ruled today that Microsoft must pay telecommunications infrastructure manufacturer Alcatel-Lucent, $70 million in damages in a judgement from a patent infringement claim from 2003.

The patent at issue was originally applied for by engineers at AT&T and provides a method of entering information into fields on a computer screen without the use of a keyboard. Initially, Alcatel-Lucent filed a claim against computer giants Gateway and Dell for their alleged infringement of the patent in 2002, with Microsoft intervening.

At an earlier trial involving the same parties, Microsoft was found guilty of infringing on the patent in its Outlook e-mail software, Windows Mobile, and with Microsoft Money. The original ruling would have cost Microsoft more than $500 million in damages, however it appealed the decision and the damages were lowered considerably.

In a statement from David Howard, Microsoft’s corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of litigation, he said, “Today’s verdict reflects a positive trend in the law of patent damages stemming from the Federal Circuit’s earlier opinion in this and other cases. However, we continue to maintain that current law requires a genuine apportionment of damages when the infringement is directed to a small feature of a feature-rich product, and we are reviewing the verdict in that light and considering next steps.”

This patent infringement case in particular is the most recent in a long history of litigation between the two companies. Microsoft was also the defendant in a patent infringement complaint filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission by Alcatel-Lucent over technology to identify and affiliate a user in a telephone network. The ITC ruled in favor of Alcatel-Lucent. Another patent case involving a communications protocol patent designed to allow a host computer to communicate with a “terminal device” resulted in a split ruling.

Lawyers for Alcatel-Lucent indicated that the company was “pleased” with today’s ruling.

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Posted in: Patent Infringement