A US District Court judge has thrown out a $1,5-billion verdict against Microsoft, ruling the software giant did not infringe on audio technology patents relating to MP3 audio files held by Alcatel-Lucent.
According to Reuters, when a San Diego federal jury awarded Alcatel-Lucent the %1,5-billion damages in February, it was the largest-ever damages award in a US patent case.
But District Judge Rudi Brewster yesterday said the jury's damages could not stand because Microsoft had not violated one of the two patents. He also called into question the second patent claim in the case, saying that Microsoft licensed the technology from German research organisation Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, a co-owner of the patent.
"The Court finds that the jury's verdict of infringement was against the clear weight of evidence," Brewster wrote in his opinion.
Microsoft says the reversal was a victory for other technology companies who could have been at risk to patent infringement charges if Alcatel won.
Alcatel-Lucent spokeswoman Mary Ward says the reversal was "shocking and disturbing" and that the company plans to appeal.