“It’s a German story, with a French twist,” John Shinal reports for MarketWatch. “In 1989, Karlheinz Brandenburg, an audio engineer and mathematician working for a research institute Germany’s Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, was one of five men named on a German patent for a technology that could encode and play music in digital form.”
“In that same year, Brandenburg did related technology research with new colleagues at Bell Labs, then a unit of the former AT&T Corp., where he spent about a year before returning to his native soil,” Shinal reports.
Shinal reports, “Yesterday, lawyers for the French telecom-equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent won a $1.52 billion award by convincing a federal jury in San Diego that Microsoft Corp. violated Alcatel’s patents covering digital music.”
“Here’s the twist: the two patents mentioned above are not the same one. Alcatel-Lucent acquired the latter because it owns the rights to a lot of former Bell Labs intellectual property, while Microsoft — like Apple Inc. and dozens of other U.S. technology companies — licenses the former patent from Fraunhofer,” Shinal reports.
“Yet both are used in Microsoft’s Media Player software, at least according to the jury that made the award. That piece of software has been installed on millions of PCs and portable music players around the globe since the suit was first filed in 2004 — which helps explain the size of the award,” Shinal reports.
“Microsoft’s attorneys said they will ask for relief from the court on the award and, if necessary, appeal the verdict,” Shinal reports. “This will not be the last legal spat concerning technology that is commonly used in all sorts of consumer electronic gear. It’s not even the first.
Full article here.
Are MP3 patents really in upheaval after Alcatel-Lucent’s verdict over Microsoft? – February 23, 2007
Alcatel-Lucent’s landmark MP3 victory over Microsoft paves way to demand royalties from Apple? – February 23, 2007
Microsoft ordered to pay Alcatel-Lucent $1.52 billion for Windows Media Player patent infringement – February 22, 2007