Microsoft ducks $358 million damages claim

Microsoft has ducked a verdict which would have forced it to pay $358 million to long-time patent rival Alcatel-Lucent.

Last year, a US federal court awarded Alcatel-Lucent $358 million in damages from Microsoft for violating patents relating to technology that allows users to enter dates into calendars in its Outlook email program, known as the “Day” patent.

However, during appeal the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit acknowledged that Microsoft had indirectly infringed Alcatel’s patents, but claimed the damages awarded against the firm were not justified and must be retried.

“Because the damages award based on the infringing date-picker feature of Outlook is not supported by substantial evidence and is contrary to the clear weight of the evidence, the damages award must be vacated,” the court said in its ruling.

“We are pleased that the court vacated the damages award, and we look forward to taking the next step in the judicial process,” says Microsoft spokesman Kevin Kutz.

Alcatel-Lucent also took encouragement from the court’s action: “While we are disappointed that the court did not affirm the jury’s decision on damages, we look forward to an upcoming proceeding to determine the compensation to which Alcatel-Lucent is entitled based on the court’s finding that Microsoft did use our patented invention.”

The “Day” patent dispute is the last part of a large, long-running, multibillion dollar patent dispute between Alcatel-Lucent and Microsoft. The remainder of the litigation was resolved last December.

Microsoft is also fighting a high-profile patent suit with i4i, which could result in Microsoft being forced to yank Word from the shelves.

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