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Judge overturns $1.5 billion ruling against Microsoft

A US judge on Monday overturned a $1.52 billion judgement against Microsoft in a case in which French technology giant Alcatel-Lucent had sued the US software maker for violating MP3 patents.

A jury decided on the massive award for two patent violations in February. But in its appeal, the world’s largest software maker managed to persuade District Court Judge Rudi Brewster that the jury’s damage award could not stand because one of the two patents wasn’t infringed. The second disputed patent was co-owned by Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute and Microsoft had a valid license, Brewster ruled. “The jury’s verdict was against the clear weight of the evidence,” Brewster wrote in his 43-page order, overturning what had been one of the largest patent verdicts in US history.

An Alcatel spokeswoman called the reversal “shocking and disturbing,” and said the company plans to appeal. Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, called the latest ruling “a victory for consumers of digital music and a triumph for common sense in the patent system.” (