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Microsoft Patents Government The Courts News

Microsoft to Pay $1.52 Billion in Patent Suit Damages 170

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the coughing-up-the-dough dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A U.S. federal jury found that Microsoft Corp. infringed audio patents held by Alcatel-Lucent and should pay $1.52 billion in damages, Microsoft said Thursday. The news comes after reports that U.S. Supreme Court justices expressed doubts about whether Microsoft Corp. should be liable for infringing AT&T Inc. patents in Windows software sold overseas."
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Microsoft to Pay $1.52 Billion in Patent Suit Damages

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  • Hmmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @07:59PM (#18116318)
    Well, you know, patents are bad. So even though MS is "evil", supporting this ruling is the wrong way to go... Right?
  • by gasmonso (929871) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:01PM (#18116348) Homepage

    Lately it seems that Microsoft has been spiraling downward at a good pace. From the uneventful launch of Vista to lawsuits like this, I think MS is spending more time on litigation and PR than developing good products.

    gasmonso http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:10PM (#18116430) Homepage
    Oh, that's easy! Ideally Microsoft pays the fine first, once again getting bit in the ass by software patents, and thus becomes an even greater force against software patents. Software patents are eliminated, and both MS and Free Software folks have a big party together with beer kegs and streamers and drunken install CD swapping.

    Then Microsoft gets fined another $1.5 billion, for being jerks. Then another billion for being assholes. Then another billion for each chair Ballmer has thrown.

    But seriously, I think them being penalized goes great with getting rid of patents. The more evidence that software patents are a hindrance to the software industry the better.
  • ogg (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:11PM (#18116434)
    even big companies can benefit for adopting royalty-free open standards.
  • 1.52 Billion????? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by scoot80 (1017822) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:20PM (#18116526) Journal
    Shit, I don't care how rich Microsoft is.. 1.52 billion? Thats gotta hurt!
  • It ain't good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kocsonya (141716) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:53PM (#18116840)
    Chances are, M$, instead of seeing the light and lobby against the patentability of algorithms/math/shapes of clouds/ways of combing hair/etc will just hire more patent lawyers and patent everything remotely connected to computers to build a very thick patent armor and a large caliber cannon too.

    At the end of the day Lucent and Microsoft and all those behemoths will sort it out between themselves and the small players get eliminated.
    The IP lobby gets multiple orgasms, extends patent expiry terms to that of copyright, then extends the copyright to be ahead of patents and generates a new class of IP, the 'unpublished thought'. Since that latter can not be effectively monitored (yet), they introduce a levy (indexed by the education level) to be paid by any cognitive being to the TCAA (Thought Control Association of America); those who can't pay can instead sell themselves to the TCAA, which will export them to Chinese sweatshops as extra cheap slave labour. Persons trying to hide their being educated will be prosecuted as thought terrorist and will be sent to secret CIA torture centres where they will be used for testing new methods of extracting one's innermost thoughts. Skipping school is considered a federal offense and offenders are sent to re-education camps (these can be cheaply leased from Gulag, Inc. a company run by the Russian maffia). People in coma (and thus with no income) but with measurable brain activity will have their organs removed and sold to pay for their thoughts, however, as soon as their EEG goes flat, no more organs can be extracted in lieu of the thought levy. Rather, all remaining organs can be taken by the TCAA as payment of punitive damages for depriving the TCAA of its income by the old trick of being dead.

    Then the ants all go to the Père Lachaise cemetery and spit on La Fontaine's grave.
  • by Jason Earl (1894) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @08:58PM (#18116902) Homepage Journal

    The problem is, of course, is that Microsoft has *never* used patents offensively. If Microsoft did start using patents offensively it would almost certainly end up suing one of its own customers and technology folk the world over would start getting very nervous about their investment in Microsoft software.

    Ballmer and crew are more than happy to talk about "intellectual property" issues with the press, but they know better than to actually start suing people. The question then becomes is it worth over a billion dollars a year for Microsoft to be able to threaten Free Software developers despite the fact that Microsoft knows that it isn't likely to ever take its complaints to court? The whole patent issue is little more than an elaborate bluff, and yet it costs Microsoft real money on an ongoing basis.

  • by MaxPower2 (976000) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:00PM (#18116930)
    For those of you who are caught up in hating MS, open your eyes and see what this really means. Many other companies licensed the technology from Germany's Fraunhofer. The list includes Apple, Sony, Creative Tech., Napster, and many other companies. This means that if this ruling stands, you will see many other lawsuits in the future related to this technology.
  • by rcbutcher (952782) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:11PM (#18117046) Homepage
    Neither story actually tells us anything about the alleged issue. They mention MP3, Fraunhofer, speech conversion, Lucent, but zilch about Microsoft-MP3-Lucent-courtcase. Crap journalism.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:13PM (#18117068)
    An almost perfect quote from the article:

    The U.S. Justice Department has sided with much of Microsoft's argument and said the appeals court ruling "improperly extends United States patent law to foreign markets" and puts U.S. software companies at a competitive disadvantage.

    Shoud have simply read:
    The U.S. Justice Department said the United States patent law puts U.S. software companies at a competitive disadvantage.

  • by MaggieL (10193) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @09:15PM (#18117088)

    If Microsoft did start using patents offensively it would almost certainly end up suing one of its own customers and technology folk the world over would start getting very nervous about their investment in Microsoft software.

    Customers and technology folk who aren't already very nervous about their "investment in Microsoft software" either haven't been paying attention or don't have any such "investment".

    Personally, I'd use the term "vulnerability" rather than "investment".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:14PM (#18117602)
    Who cares? This is just another reason to avoid patent infected technologies altogether.
  • by Wolfbone (668810) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:33PM (#18117764)
    As others have pointed out, it is not true that Microsoft has never used patents offensively. It is also a fact that the vast majority of patent disputes never end up in Court: licensing or cessation of infringement are the only economically realistic options for most alleged infringers. Finally, as Microsoft's VP of IP, Marshall "Father of the IBM tax" Phelps could tell you, a company with a large enough patent portfolio can gain more from the dysfunctional patent system than it loses. In fact it can derive a significant strategic advantage.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 22, 2007 @10:56PM (#18117932)
    No, this is a good thing. G-O-O-D.

    Everyone will start sueing everyone else. And maybe, just maybe it will cause people get more interested in using open, free standards. And maybe, just maybe we'll take another look at software patents and the patent system in general.
  • Good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by melted (227442) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @11:21PM (#18118110) Homepage
    A few more of these and software industry will abolish patents on its own volition.
  • Re:It ain't good (Score:1, Insightful)

    by PixelScuba (686633) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @11:44PM (#18118258)
    Your response could have carried so much more prominence and weight, but you chose to start your reply with the 'M$' slur. It was an instant bomb that told me not to read any further (I did begrudgingly, only to find a quality post hidden below). Can we please stop using this ridiculous denotation for Microsoft. Yes they're a tremendously wealthy company who throw their weight around inappropriately... but we're adults. We should be able to discuss the (de)merits of Microsoft without resorting to the equivalent of "poopy head".
  • by jkrise (535370) on Thursday February 22, 2007 @11:59PM (#18118342) Journal
    both MS and Free Software folks have a big party together with beer kegs and streamers and drunken install CD swapping

    I can picture the scene...
    MS: Have some more beer... no more patents to file... all our IP goes down the drain.
    Hippie 1: I don't drink branded beer.. only Open Source beer.
    Bruce: I told you so... patents are like spitting in the wind. I've brought my own beer along, rejoice!
    RMS : I only touch Free Beer. Make it GNU Free Beer and I'll drop plans for GPL3.
    MS: No need to pay lawyers anymore... billions saved every year... some more beer, anyone?
    Linus: I take back whatever nonsense I spoke about Patent Pools. Maybe RMS is right after all?
    ESR: I think I'll start writing FetchBeer now...
    Moglen: Patents may be gone, but copyright still remains.. and DRM, DMCA as well. Can I have some free beer?
    Ballmer: I've brought a chair for all of you!

  • snerk (Score:3, Insightful)

    by trudyscousin (258684) on Friday February 23, 2007 @02:17AM (#18119212)
    "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," Tom Burt, Microsoft's deputy general counsel, said in a statement.

    Oh! I see! Microsoft is now The Company That Cares!

    Please. Since when has the welfare of another company been of any interest whatsoever to this utterly ruthless behemoth?

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