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Microsoft slapped with $1.52 billion payout in MP3 suit

Paul Miller, @futurepaul
February 22, 2007
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Those federal juries in San Diego do seem to frown on MP3 patent infringement. They just ordered Microsoft to fork over $1.52 billion (yes, with a "b") to Alcatel-Lucent for infringing on two MP3 audio patents with its Windows Media Player, the largest patent ruling in history. Naturally, Alcatel-Lucent seems to like this turn of events. "We have made strong arguments supporting our view, and we are pleased with the court's decision," said Alcatel-Lucent spokeswoman Joan Campion. Microsoft is singing another tune, and is going to "seek relief from the trial court, and if necessary appeal," according to Tom Burt, corporate VP and deputy general counsel. The irony in all this -- if you can call anything in a $1.52 billion case "ironic" -- is that Microsoft payed the Fraunhofer Institute $16 million to license the tech in the first place, but since Fraunhofer co-developed the MP3 with Bell Labs, and Lucent owns those patents, Alcatel-Lucent decided to go for the gold, and seem to have done a pretty good job of it. This probably won't be the last we hear of this case, and it's only one in a long list of lawsuits between the two companies, but boy is that a hefty sum.

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