Microsoft Files Suit Against Lucent

Software giant seeks to clarify Lucent patent claims against Dell and Gateway.

Microsoft Corp. this week filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to determine whether patents held by Lucent Technologies Inc.—and which are the subjects of suits Lucent has filed against two OEMs—are valid.

Software giant Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., filed the suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Diego. Microsoft spokesman Jim Desler said the company filed the suit for several reasons, including to help computer makers Dell Computer Corp., of Round Rock, Texas, and Gateway Inc., of Poway, Calif., in their court battles against the telecommunications and networking giant.

"Were taking this approach on behalf of our OEM partners, to seek clarity from the patent claims Lucent has made against them," Desler said.

He also said that Lucent, through a licensing agent, has implied that there could be future court action against Microsoft regarding some Microsoft technology and the way the OEMs have implemented it.

"Were asking the court to decide if the patents are valid and if any infringement has occurred," said Desler, adding that 13 patents in all are involved.

Lucent, of Murray Hill, N.J., has sued Dell and Gateway over functions such as touch screens, color memory, voice and video features and technology used to control PCs via a stylus.

Mary Lou Ambrus, a spokeswoman for Lucent, said the suits filed against Gateway in June 2002 and Dell in February are nothing more than ways of protecting the companys millions of dollars invested in research and development.

"Were asking for fair and reasonable compensation for the use of our intellectual property," Ambrus said. "We believe the [Microsoft] suit is without merit."

(Editors Note: This story has been updated since its original posting to include comments from Lucent.)