Alcatel sues Microsoft over digital video patents

Alcatel accused Microsoft of infringing on seven patents, some relating to digital video transmission

Alcatel has accused Microsoft of infringing seven of its U.S. patents. The patents describe how to implement fast-forward and rewind functions in digital video streams, among other things.

The French networking equipment manufacturer filed two suits with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas on Friday, asking the court to rule that Microsoft wilfully infringed on the patents. Through its local subsidiary, Alcatel USA Resources, the company is seeking an end to the infringement, treble damages, and payment of interest charges and legal costs.

Alcatel representatives could not immediately say which Microsoft products are alleged to infringe on Alcatel's patents. Microsoft representatives in Europe referred questions to their colleagues in the U.S.

The first suit concerns three patents: numbers 6,339,830 and 6,874,090, both entitled "Deterministic User Authentication Service for Communication Network," and number 6,661,799, entitled "Method And Apparatus for Facilitating Peer-to-Peer Application Communication."

The other covers four patents: number 6,823,390, "Method Of Setting Up Data Communication With A Communication Means And Furthermore Program Modules And Means Therefor;" number 6,112,226, "Method And Apparatus For Concurrently Encoding And Tagging Digital Information For Allowing Non-Sequential Access During Playback;" number 5,864,682, "Method and Apparatus for Frame Accurate Access of Digital Audio-Visual Information," and number 5,659,539, "Method and Apparatus for Frame Accurate Access of Digital Audio-Visual Information."

Patent number 5,864,682 describes how to implement functions such as fast forward, rewind and jumping to a specific point within a digital video stream. Microsoft's Internet television platform, Microsoft TV IPTV Edition, includes a digital video recorder with such functions. Microsoft worked with Alcatel to develop the platform.

Microsoft also faces a patent lawsuit from Lucent Technologies, which Alcatel is in the process of buying. Lucent sued Microsoft in March, claiming that the Xbox 360 games console's ability to play MPEG-2 video files infringed on its patent number 5,227,878, "Adaptive Coding and Decoding of Frames and Fields of Video."

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