updated 07:40 pm EDT, Tue April 14, 2009
Microsoft vs Alcatel claim
The U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) has rejected several claims included in a patent held by Alcatel-Lucent, following a request by Microsoft and Dell to have the patent re-examined in May of 2007, according to IDG. The interim decision is the latest chapter in a lengthy dispute, potentially leading to a successful appeal of a federal court ruling that asked Microsoft to pay $358 million in compensation to the telecommunications company.
The rejected claims involve the "Day" patent that was initially part of a larger patent battle that began in 2002. Alcatel-Lucent accused Microsoft, Dell and Gateway of infringement, although the remaining dispute surrounds technology used in Microsoft's Outlook software.
In April 2008 a federal jury concluded that the claims were valid, and awarded Alcatel-Lucent with the sizable compensation. Microsoft filed a appeal with the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the decision, although the case is still pending. The "Day" claims are the focus of the appeal, however, and the patent office rejection could weigh heavily in Microsoft's favor.
Microsoft representative David Bowermaster claimed the recent decision "will bolster our arguments that the Day patent is invalid and the jury's verdict should be reversed."
Alcatel-Lucent does not feel that the case is closed, as the patent office decision has not yet been finalized. The patent is still "valid and valuable," claims Mary Ward, a spokesperson for the company. "Despite Microsoft's suggestion, this interim decision does not conclude the re-examination process or result in an ultimate determination of invalidity of the patent."