Alcatel-Lucent Awarded $1.5 Billion from Microsoft over MP3 Patents

CNet reports that Microsoft has been hit with a $1.5 billion patent verdict over MP3 audio technology used in Windows since 2003.

Microsoft reportedly licensed the technology from Fraunhofer, a company that helped develop MP3 compression alongside Lucent's Bell Labs. Though details are scarce, Lucent apparently does not recognize Fraunhofer's (now Thomson) licensing as sufficient. The decision is of particular interest to other technology companies who have licensed MP3 technology from Fraunhofer. This includes hundreds of companies including Apple. This decision could put these companies at risk for future litigation and licensing fees.

"Therefore, today's outcome is disappointing for us and for the hundreds of other companies who have licensed MP3 technology," Burt said. "We are concerned that this decision opens the door for Alcatel-Lucent to pursue action against hundreds of other companies who purchased the rights to use MP3 technology from Fraunhofer, the industry-recognized rightful licensor."

PC World notes that this is the first of six patent lawsuits currently underway by Lucent. The remaining lawsuits directed at Microsoft cover speech pattern technology, user interface patents, Xbox 360 technology, and video technologies.

Microsoft, of course, has stated they "will seek relief from the trial court, and if necessary, appeal".

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