Could a Patent Lawsuit Stop the Xbox 360?

An injunction that could disrupt the distribution of the Xbox 360 game console is possible because of a patent suit that Lucent Technologies has filed against Microsoft, according to attorneys who practice intellectual property (IP) law.

Lucent filed suit against the software vendor last month in a U.S. District Court in San Diego. The networking company, which currently is in the process of merging with Alcatel, says Microsoft has violated a patent it holds on the built-in MPEG-2 decoding capability of the console. At issue is patent number 5,227,878, "Adaptive Coding and Decoding of Frames and Fields of Video."

"I don't think there is any question there's an injunctive threat [from the case]," says Steve Akerly, a partner with law firm McDermott Will & Emery who focuses on IP.

Lucent may have a stronger case for an injunction to block the sale of Xbox 360s than NTP did to shut down BlackBerry service in the recently resolved case against Research in Motion (RIM), Akerly says. That's because Lucent makes and sells technology, whereas NTP was simply a holder of the patent under dispute in its case, he explains, adding, "I don't know for sure, but it wouldn't surprise me if Lucent practiced the patent, unlike an NTP."

A Lucent representative reached Friday could not comment on whether the company has technology based on the patent in question.

NTP eventually won a $612.5 million settlement from RIM in its case.
Lucent and Microsoft's case is more complicated than that one, however, because the companies have clashed over the patent before, says Paul Lesko, an associate attorney who leads the Intellectual Property Litigation Group at SimmonsCooper LLC, based in Chicago.

News source: Yahoo! News

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