Microsoft's $1.5 Billion MP3 Fine Dropped

In a development which Alcatel-Lucent calls "shocking and disturbing" and which Microsoft calls a "victory for consumers," a federal judge in the San Diego District Court has overturned a jury's decision which had ruled that Microsoft's Media Player software infringed on two Alcatel patents, a decision which had previously awarded Alcatel $1.52 billion in damages. Judge Rudi Brewster ruled today that Microsoft had not breached patent laws because the company had already paid German firm Fraunhofer $16 million to use one of the patents in question, and, given that Fraunhofer was not filing a similar suit, the judge decided MS had broken no laws.

Alcatel was naturally unhappy about the decision, and has vowed to appeal the ruling; Mary Lou Ambrus, a spokeswoman for the company, stated that "this reversal of the judge's own pre-trial and post-trial rulings is shocking and disturbing." However, even if the French firm were successful in challenging the ruling, the Judge Brewster has stated that would give them a new trial, but that he would not reinstate the original $1.5 billion fine. The decision alleviates fears that if Microsoft had lost the Alcatel-Lucent case, many other firms that license technology would also be sued.

This case is just one of six filed by Alcatel, all against computer firms including Dell and Gateway, which the court is set to hear.

View: Full Story on The BBC

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