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RealTime IT News

Microsoft Slapped with $521M IE Patent Infringement

A Chicago jury has ordered software giant Microsoft to pay $521 million to the University of California and Eolas Technology for using patented technology in its flagship Internet Explorer browser.

According to Bloomberg data, the award is the largest U.S. jury verdict this year.

Microsoft said it would appeal the ruling in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, noting that the court has already rejected claims of willful infringement.

"We believe the evidence will ultimately show that there was no infringement of any kind, and that the accused feature in our browser technology was developed by our own engineers based on pre-existing Microsoft technology," the company said in a statement.

In the lawsuit, filed in February 1999, Chicago-based Eolas Technologies claimed as much as $1.2 billion for alleged patent infringement involving plug-in and applet technology. The company accused Microsoft of using its patented technology in its Windows 98, Windows 95 and Internet Explorer programs.

Eolas' patent (US Patent 5,838,906) was granted on November 17, 1998 and covered technologies for the creation of a browser system that allowed for the embedding of small interactive programs, such as plug-ins, applets, scriptlets or ActiveX Controls, into online documents.

After the jury's ruling, Microsoft said it would work hard to ensure there is "very little if any impact on our customers."

"As an intellectual property company, Microsoft invests heavily in research and development, and is committed to respecting the intellectual property rights of others," Microsoft added.

In a separate statement, the University of California welcomed the cash verdict, calling it a "significant landmark in defining and protecting Internet technology."

"As a public institution that reinvests its licensing revenue in its larger research mission, we are gratified by the jury's recognition that UC and Eolas must be fairly compensated for use of its patented technology," the university added.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer dominates the Web browser market, well ahead of competing products from Netscapek, Mozilla/Phoenix and Opera.