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Microsoft Ordered To Pay Alcatel-Lucent $70 Million

A long-running dispute regarding Microsoft's use of a patented Alcatel-Lucent software technology called "Day" culminated on Friday with a jury awarding Alcatel-Lucent $70 million in damages.

Microsoft was found to have infringed the Day patent in some versions of Windows Mobile, Microsoft Outlook and the discontinued Microsoft Money. The patent involves a method of entering information into fields on a computer screen (seen, for example, in the date picker used in Outlook's calendar).

The Day patent was originally filed in 1986 by three computer engineers at AT&T. Lucent Technologies, an AT&T spin-off company formed in 1996, sued Gateway over use of the technology in 2002, in a case that Microsoft later joined as a defendant. The litigation against Microsoft continued after Paris-based Alcatel merged with Lucent in 2006.

In recent years, the dispute had settled on reassessing damages after a $358 million jury award to Alcatel was thrown out on appeal. The $70 million awarded to Alcatel-Lucent on Friday was the result of further legal wrangling over reassessed damages.

Microsoft has argued that the Day patent was invalid for being obvious or anticipated. Additionally, Microsoft has argued that its products did not infringe, even should the patent be considered valid. However, these arguments did not prevail; in May 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Microsoft's request to review a lower court's finding of patent infringement.

Other Alcatel-Lucent disputes with Microsoft have included the use of MP3 technology in Windows Media Player, in which Alcatel-Lucent was awarded $1.5 billion in damages, although the award was thrown out on appeal. There have also been legal disputes over digital speech technology and a terminal device communications protocol.

The two companies reportedly settled many of their intellectual property disputes for an undisclosed amount in November 2008.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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