Federal Judge Approves Alcatel/Microsoft Ruling

A federal judge has signed off on a $1.53 billion jury verdict against Microsoft in a patent suit brought by Alcatel-Lucent SA. The ruling, the largest ever jury award in a patent infringement case, was awarded in February.

U.S. District Court Judge Rudi M. Brewster in San Diego entered his judgment Monday, according to the Associated Press. Judge Brewster concluded Microsoft’s Windows Media Player multimedia player infringed on patents owned by Lucent Technologies, which merged with France-based Alcatel last year.

By signing off on the verdict, the judge allows the case to proceed to the appeals process, which could take years.

A Microsoft spokesman Guy Esnouf told the AP that the company would challenge the ruling during a June 20 hearing, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling this week in favor of Microsoft in a patent dispute against AT&T.

Inquiries to Microsoft by internetnews.com were not returned at press time.

The legal case started in 2003, when Lucent filed 15 patent claims against Gateway and Dell for patent violations regarding MP3 playback. Microsoft added itself to the list of defendants in April, taking a bullet for Dell and Gateway, saying the patents were closely tied to its Windows operating system.

However, Dell and Gateway still face a trial later this month, along with Microsoft, in another patent dispute over user interface technology.

During the trial, Microsoft disputed that Alcatel-Lucent’s patents were applicable, and that it licensed the MP3 codec used in Windows Media Player from Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a German company that claims ownership of the MP3 compression algorithm.

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