Microsoft Fine Is Overturned in Alcatel-Lucent Patent Infringement Case

A $358 million judgment leveled against Microsoft in a patent infringement case is overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Alcatel-Lucent had argued that Microsoft Outlook violated its patent for touch-screen form entry technology. Alcatel-Lucent was awarded $1.52 billion in February 2007 in a previous case involving the two companies, but that ruling was eventually overturned.

Microsoft finally received some good news in one of its high-profile legal battles on Sept. 11, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington overturning a $358 million judgment leveled against the software maker in a patent infringement case involving Alcatel-Lucent.

The original verdict, which found that Microsoft Outlook violated Alcatel-Lucent's patent for touch-screen form entry technology, was allowed to stand. However, the original trial court was asked to recalculate the damages associated with the violation.

"The damages award ought to be correlated, in some respect, to the extent the infringing method is used by consumers," wrote Chief Judge Paul Michel, according to Bloomberg.

Microsoft argued in the case that the technology in question played no part in Outlook's e-mail function. For its part, Alcatel-Lucent argued that touch-screen form entry was vital to Outlook, and that it was owed $685 million from sales of the application.

This is not the first high-profile case between the two companies. In February 2007, a San Diego jury awarded Alcatel-Lucent a staggering $1.52 billion in a patent dispute with Microsoft. Alcatel-Lucent argued in that previous case that two of its MP3-related patents had been violated, although Microsoft argued that its use of the technology was covered under a license.

The ruling in that case ended up being overturned. A little over a year later, however, Microsoft found itself hit again on the patent-violation front by Alcatel-Lucent, which now argued that Microsoft Outlook violated its technology patent. The original verdict against Microsoft was handed down in April 2008.

Microsoft also finds itself embroiled in another patent infringement lawsuit, this one leveled against it by i4i, a small Canadian company that argues its XML-related patent is violated by Microsoft Word. The original verdict in that case, handed down in August, would have forced Microsoft to pull copies of Word from store shelves within 60 days and pay i4i nearly $300 million in fines.

However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled on Sept. 3 that Microsoft could continue selling Word for the duration of the case. Since then, Microsoft and i4i have been submitting briefs and counter-briefs arguing their respective positions, with two major companies in Microsoft's ecosystem, Dell and Hewlett-Packard, also filing friend-of-the-court briefs in the case.