Roundup of media coverage of Microsoft v. AT&T oral arguments, more to come for Microsoft?February 23, 2007

Now that the oral arguments before the Supreme Court have passed, various media outlets have had the opportunity to weigh in on the arguments and offer their predictions as to how the case will come out. A sampling of this media coverage is below: Seattle Post Intelligencer USA Today Boston Globe Houston Chronicle Forbes Los Angeles Times BBC News Wall Street Journal (subscription required) MSNBC Jurist EE Times While the early predictions indicate that most think Microsoft will win this case before the Supreme Court, yesterday Microsoft was hit with a $1.5 billion jury verdict in another patent infringement case. That case is about patents relating to the MP3 audio format, the most popular audio encoding format for music files. Microsoft licenses a group of patents relating to MP3 technology from the Fraunhofer Institute, a German consortium that developed the standard. However, Alcatel-Lucent, the plaintiff, asserted that it owned two patents that also covered MP3 technology. Alcatel-Lucent’s predecessor was Bell Labs, who allegedly developed these two patents before joining with the Fraunhofer consortium to develop the MP3 standard. Because they were previously-developed, Alcatel-Lucent argued that they were not a part of the consortium’s patents covering the technology, and a jury agreed. This verdict potentially puts all licensing of MP3 technology into turmoil, as if the Alcatel-Lucent patents also cover the technology, companies utilizing the technology would have to pay royalties to both the Fraunhofer consortium and Alcatel-Lucent, potentially driving up the cost of the technology. Microsoft has stated that if the judge does not reduce or overturn the verdict, it will appeal to the Federal Circuit. If that occurs, it will be a case to watch.

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