Alcatel-Lucent gets $70 million in Microsoft patent case

Microsoft said it is 'considering its next steps'

Microsoft has been ordered to pay $US70 million to networking vendor Alcatel-Lucent in a years-old patent dispute that at one time could have cost Microsoft $1.5 billion.

A jury in San Diego issued its verdict Friday in a lawsuit that accused Microsoft of violating patents in several products including Outlook. The suit was brought by Lucent in 2003, before it merged with Alcatel.

In 2007, a jury in the same court ordered Microsoft to pay Lucent $1.5 billion for the infringement. The judge overturned that decision, saying Microsoft infringed only one of two patents at issue, and that the second patent was jointly owned by a European research institute, so the court didn't have jurisdiction to rule on it.

Lucent appealed, but a federal appeals court upheld the lower court decision. The companies then settled most of the claims at issue, but some remained, and the companies have been in and out of court ever since. The award against Microsoft eventually grew to $511 million before a new trial was ordered.

"This [latest] trial came about after the Federal Circuit ordered a new trial on damages, overturning an original judgment of over $500 million for the same patent," Microsoft said in a statement.

"Today's verdict reflects a positive trend in the law of patent damages stemming from the Federal Circuit's earlier opinion in this and other cases," it said. "However, we continue to maintain that current law requires a genuine apportionment of damages when the infringement is directed to a small feature of a feature-rich product, and we are reviewing the verdict in that light and considering next steps."

A Microsoft spokeswoman declined to say if that means the company will file an appeal. Spokespeople for Alcatel-Lucent could not immediately be reached for comment.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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