Judge reverses $1.5 billion MP3 patent infringement judgment against Microsoft

“Microsoft Corp. does not have to pay $1.53 billion in damages to Alcatel-Lucent SA, a federal judge ruled Monday, reversing a March jury decision that Microsoft programs infringe on Alcatel-Lucent’s digital music patents,” Jessica Mintz reports for The Associated Press.

“U.S. District Court Judge Rudi M. Brewster in San Diego said Microsoft’s Windows Media Player software does not infringe on one of the two patents in question,” Mintz reports. “Brewster also said the second patent is owned by both Alcatel-Lucent and Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, a German company Microsoft paid $16 million for rights to use the technology. Since Fraunhofer did not also sue Microsoft, the Redmond-based software maker is in the clear, the judge decided.”

“Both patents cover the encoding and decoding of audio into the digital MP3 format, a popular way to convert music from a CD into a file on a personal computer and vice versa,” Mintz reports.

Mintz reports, “In a May court filing, the judge seemed to support the jury’s decisions, and Monday’s turnabout dismayed Alcatel-Lucent. ‘This reversal of the judge’s own pretrial and post-trial rulings is shocking and disturbing, especially since — after a three-week trial and four days of careful deliberation — the jury unanimously agreed with us, and we believe their decision should stand,’ said Mary Lou Ambrus, a spokeswoman for Alcatel-Lucent, in an e-mail. ‘We still have a strong case and we believe we will prevail on appeal.'”

Full article here.


  1. ….in other news the judge, returning from a week vacation in his new car, said that rumors he met with Bill Gates before the decision are simply not true.

    he is retiring to his mansion later this month.

  2. As odd as it is, here, to cheer Microsoft winning a court victory, this time it was the right outcome. Now Alcatel-Lucent will have far less ammunition coming after portable music player manufacturers.

  3. Just a thought here. Could this be due to the Supreme Courts decision that patents need to be clearly in violation and not just in the same ball park???

    THe first judge used the pre change ruling and the second judge used the current SC ruling?????

    IF so, then this bodes well for future “stupid” patent lawsuits such as the current one against Apple for use of a keyboard. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />


  4. I agree with most comments.

    As much as I might dislike Microsoft, justice must be served, and that lawsuit was pure nonsense.

    So, this is a good precedent for the technology world, regardless of the fact that microsoft is the winner.

  5. Alcatel-Lucent & Universal have three things in common, they are both French and they have both lost a lot of money!

    Lucent through underhand accounting methods to massage their stock and Universal through a CEO’s incompetence.

    They are both trying to sue other companies to bring themselves back into profit.

    They have been caught with their trousers down because Fraunhofer-Gesselschaft invented & patented MP3.

    Extract from Wiki: “The year 2000 marked a noteworthy success at Fraunhofer-Institut for Integrated Circuits (IIS): MP3, which they developed, is the most widely adopted method for encoding and decoding digital audio.”

    SO, just like creative which unlike those two succeeded in getting money from Apple but it didn’t do them any good because they then wasted it trying to compete with the ipod, those two business’s are going to suffer a similar fate if not worse because they haven’t a leg to stand on!!

    BURN baby BURN!!!!!!!!

  6. I actually a law degree in Australia, so take my comments with a grain of salt if you are so inclined, but I agree with the decision in terms of economic, social and legal logic. Historically in the common law, where US laws developed from, all these ingredients make up a classical decision – that’s why concepts taken for granted today, such as limited liability pty and ltd companies even exist, the concepts were invented by judges, believe it or not.

    As an Aussi looking from the outside in, so excuse the ignorance, I just have a major problem with the concept of a single judge overturning a jury decision. Why didn’t it have to go to a jury on appeal? Or why was it even allowed to go to a jury in the first place? I just don’t get the inconsistency in the logic of the legal process.

    In Australia, generally but there are exceptions to everything of course, an appellate judge could only over-rule the jury on issues such as if the jury was mislead or if certain evidence of decisions should not have been given to the jury. But if things were correctly referred to the jury, as in they made a decision they they were legally entitled to find, they can only be overturned on appeal by another jury or a full court of a superior court.

    So I think there are bigger issues here than money, which companies like M$ and Apple can afford.

    Just my 2 cents…

  7. @ ShadowMac. It may well be & we may never know, that the jury did not have the latter information or did not understand the information given because Judges can often direct juries to ignore certain information.

    For example if Alcatel-Lucent lawyers only provided documents to prove their legal ownership of the software but did not provide clarification that the patent was still owned by creator & that the creator had a right to licence the software to other business’s then one can understand how the jury came to their original conclusion.

    This reminds me of the Apple-Microsoft lawsuit over Windows and how in the end Microsoft managed to shaft Apple via a backdoor that Apple had left open at Xerox.

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