Microsoft-Lucent MP3 dispute goes to jury Plaintiff seeks $4.56 billion in patent infringement suit
Friday, February 16, 2007
By JEFF ST. ONGE
Alcatel-Lucent's claim that Microsoft Corp. owes as much as $4.56 billion for infringing two patents covering the MP3 digital-audio standard is set to be decided by a federal jury in San Diego.
The jury of eight men and one woman began weighing the case Thursday, a day after lawyers made final arguments in the 12-day trial. Alcatel-Lucent accused Microsoft of infringing the patents with its Windows Media Player, including the version in the new Vista Operating System. Microsoft denies the claim.
"These patents were the groundwork that changed the digital industry," John Desmarais, a lawyer for Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent, told jurors. "We invented it, and everybody else is making money off of it."
A victory for Alcatel-Lucent might clear the way for legal actions against hundreds of companies that rely on MP3, the standard for playing music and sound files on a computer, mobile phone or digital-music player. Microsoft, the world's biggest software maker, contends that Alcatel-Lucent is demanding royalties already being paid to another inventor and claims the patents are invalid.
"Lucent just missed the boat on this technology," Microsoft lawyer Tom Melsheimer told the jury. "This case is about Lucent trying to do in the courtroom what they couldn't do in the 1990s, which is make money off of MP3."
Microsoft already licenses an MP3 patent from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS through Thomson SA, a French provider of satellite decoders and movie-production services.
Among the hundreds of licensees of Fraunhofer's MP3 innovations are Microsoft rival Apple Inc., computer makers Hewlett-Packard Co. and Toshiba Corp., chip maker Intel Corp., stereo-system maker Bang & Olufsen, software maker RealNetworks Inc. and Internet-search engine Yahoo Inc.
AT&T Corp. and Fraunhofer agreed in 1989 to develop MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 technology, now called MP3. Scientists from AT&T's Bell Labs collaborated with Fraunhofer before AT&T spun off the unit in 1996. Bell Labs became Lucent Technologies Inc., which Alcatel SA acquired last year.
Microsoft accuses Lucent of deceiving the U.S. Patent & Trademark office by having one of the patents reissued and backdated to 1988, removing it from the scope of the 1989 deal with Fraunhofer.
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Dave Nolan <[log in to unmask]> wrote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mp3
>Anybody know when mp3 was created...and by whom? Runs in my mind
>it was the same group that came up with "MPEG" condensed image
>Steven C. Barr
"If you're not on somebody's watchlist,you're not doing your job"
Dave Von Kleist
Don't pick lemons.
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