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Press Releases

Fish Gets $511.6 Million Judgment Against Microsoft Overturned at the Federal Circuit

September 11, 2009

Press Releases

Fish Gets $511.6 Million Judgment Against Microsoft Overturned at the Federal Circuit

September 11, 2009

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After seven years of litigation involving more than $50 billion in alleged damages, three jury verdicts, and three appeals to the Federal Circuit, Fish prevails for Microsoft on every claim.

Boston, MA, – Fish & Richardson won a major victory for Microsoft Corp. on September 11, 2009 when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit overturned a $511.6 million damages award against Microsoft in its long-standing patent infringement battle with Alcatel-Lucent. The court found that the jury’s damages award ($358 million plus interest) was unjustified based on the evidence. This victory follows on the heels of two recent jury verdicts for Microsoft in 2008 against Alcatel-Lucent, and completes a clean sweep in the seven year litigation.

This case, which relates to Microsoft’s calendar date-picker tool, was part of a much larger patent dispute between Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent that has included seven separate cases over seven years, three jury trials, three appeals to the Federal Circuit, and the reversal of over $2 billion in jury verdicts against Microsoft. This is the last case in this epic litigation to be decided.

Fish & Richardson has served as lead counsel on all of the cases including handling the 2008 Federal Circuit case that affirmed the overturning of the $1.538 billion verdict against Microsoft – the largest patent infringement verdict in history. That verdict, on patents Lucent had claimed covered every MP3 player in existence, had shaken the roots of the MP3 system and had been reported in thousands of media outlets worldwide.

“These cases were significant not only for their immediate, multi-billion dollar impact on the litigants themselves, but the staggering implications for the entire digital music and digital video industries, since Alcatel-Lucent had specifically targeted the international standards governing the creation of MP3 music and DVDs,” said John Gartman, the Fish & Richardson principal who was lead counsel on all of the cases. “It is no stretch to say that if Microsoft had not stood up for these industries and the international standards – and won – the cases would have touched nearly every aspect of people’s future digital lifestyles, from the ubiquitous MP3s to DVDs and Blu-Ray movies.”

This litigation began in 2002 when Alcatel-Lucent sued Microsoft customers Dell and Gateway, and Microsoft intervened to stand up for its customers. Lucent claimed that many of the computers made by Gateway and Dell infringed its patents by using Microsoft programs such as Windows Media Player to play MP3 music and DVDs.

The patent claims were split up into seven different cases organized by technology type – audio (music), video, speech, and a fourth group of “user interface” patents. Many of the cases centered around patents that Alcatel-Lucent called the “crown jewels” of its 7,000-plus Bell Labs patent portfolio. Over the course of the litigation, Alcatel-Lucent sought more than $50 billion in damages from Microsoft. Fish & Richardson has now won every case in Microsoft’s favor.

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