San Diego (CA) - Microsoft has lost a $1.5 billion dollar patent case against Alcatel-Lucent over MP3 technology. A San Diego District Court jury awarded the money after deliberating for six days. This would be the largest patent win in history, but Microsoft could pay even more money because there are still five trials left with Alcatel-Lucent.
Alcatel-Lucent originally filed the lawsuits in 2003 against Microsoft customers Dell and Gateway. Microsoft intervened saying that it should be sued instead of its customers. The judge agreed and separated the 13 cases into six separate jury trials.
At first the award seems strange because Microsoft licensed mp3 technology with the Fraunhofer Institute for $16 million dollars back in 1989. Fraunhofer and the then AT&T Bell Labs patented mp3 technology. Bell Labs became Lucent and Lucent was bought out by Alcatel. Microsoft argued that Lucent Labs had backdated the patents back to 1988 which effectively removed it from the 1989 Microsoft/Fraunhofer deal.
Microsoft is obviously unhappy with the judgment and PR officials said that the award was "completely unsupported by the law or the facts."