Judge rules against Microsoft in MP3 patent case

A federal judge in San Diego has ruled against a handful of defenses presented by Microsoft Corp. in a patent trial that saw a $1.5 billion jury decision delivered against the company in February. The U.S. District Court jury on Feb. 22 found Microsoft infringed on two patents related to MP3 digital music technology asserted by Alcatel-Lucent, and based the considerable size of its award on worldwide sales of Microsoft products using the technology.

Parallel to the jury's deliberations on the patents, Judge Rudi Brewster heard five separate defenses presented by Microsoft, and on Monday filed a ruling against four of them. Brewster wrote that "Lucent is the sole owner of the (MP3) reissue patents," and that "Microsoft is not entitled to any intervening rights." If the judge had ruled in Microsoft's favor, it could have placed some limitations on the hefty jury verdict. Microsoft still intends to ask the court to review the verdict, but will wait until the judge has ruled on the fifth defense before it does so, according to a Microsoft spokesman.

Microsoft has claimed that the patents were developed jointly by an Alcatel-Lucent predecessor company owned by AT&T and Germany's Fraunhofer Institute, and that it had licensed the technology from Fraunhofer.

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