Microsoft Corp. should pay Alcatel- Lucent $1.52 billion, a federal jury said, deciding the world's biggest software maker used digital music technology without permission and handing down the largest patent ruling in history.
The San Diego jury said today that Microsoft infringed two Alcatel-Lucent patents with its Windows Media Player, including the version in the new Vista operating system. Microsoft pledged to challenge the verdict.
The decision allows Alcatel-Lucent, the world's biggest maker of communications equipment, to seek an order barring Microsoft from using the patented technology. Alactel-Lucent's victory also may 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.
''The damages award seems particularly outrageous when you consider we paid Fraunhofer only $16 million to license this technology,'' Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Tom Burt said in an e-mailed statement. ''Today's outcome is therefore disappointing for us and for the hundreds of other companies who have licensed MP3 technology.''
Microsoft, which had almost $29 billion in cash and short- term investments as of Dec. 31, said it will ask U.S. District Judge Rudi M. Brewster to overturn the verdict and will seek further review in an appeals court if necessary.