Microsoft has been ordered to pay over a sum of $70,000,000 to the French company Alcatel-Lucent, over a patent infringement that dates back to 2003. The patent was originally filed by engineers at AT&T, and relates to the entry of information on a computer screen without the usage of a keyboard. In 2002, Alcatel-Lucent sued Gateway and Dell for breaching this patent, and Microsoft jumped to their defense.
As CNET reports, the ruling by a San Diego federal judge has left Microsoft with this payment to meet. An earlier trial found Microsoft guilty of breaching the patent with Windows Mobile, Microsoft Outlook, and the now-defunct Microsoft Money. This ruling would have left Microsoft with a payout of $500,000,000, though they appealed and the damages were recalculated. Alcatel-Lucent's lawyer, Luke Dauchot, said that the company was "pleased" with the ruling.
Rather surprisingly, this case is one of several between the two companies. In 2003, Alcatel-Lucent had Gateway and Dell targeted for their usage of MP3 audio technologies. Microsoft emerged to aid the two companies, and won this case. After that ruling, the two companies clashed again when Microsoft became a target for the United States International Trade Commission over their technology for identifying and affiliating a user in a telephone network. In 2008, a mixed ruling was the result of a case involving digital speech compression technology, as well as computer communications. It comes as no real surprise to find the two companies opposing each other again.
Microsoft's corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of litigation, David Howard, had the following to say:
"Today's verdict reflects a positive trend in the law of patent damages stemming from the Federal Circuit's earlier opinion in this and other cases. However, we continue to maintain that current law requires a genuine apportionment of damages when the infringement is directed to a small feature of a feature-rich product, and we are reviewing the verdict in that light and considering next steps."