Week in review: Microsoft gets its game on

Long-awaited Halo 3 makes big debut, Vonage loses patent appeal, and Washington looks at Google-DoubleClick and Net taxes.

Microsoft scored a huge victory with the release of its Halo 3 video game.

The final installment of Microsoft's wildly popular Xbox 360 first-person shooter trilogy attracted casual and hard-core gamers to midnight release parties across the country and set one-day sales records.

On Fifth Avenue in New York, an enormous spotlight beamed up, and full-out lighting and sound equipment--along with plenty of enormous TV screens--dominated the ground scene. But no one, really, was prepared for the spectacle that the Halo 3 event would turn into with about an hour to go.

Best Buy and Microsoft staffers kept their swag giveaways going, insisting that the rambunctious crowds cheer at the top of their lungs in order to get a free T-shirt or bouncy ball thrown at them.

Then the Mongooses arrived. With only 20 minutes left before midnight, three camo-clad bikers atop all-terrain vehicles decorated to look like the Halo 3 pimped rides showed up and incited the crowds to cheering as the riders performed noisy "wheelies" along the block of Fifth Avenue that had, by that time, been completely blocked off from normal traffic.

In the 24 hours that followed, sales of the game set the all-time record for most revenue earned in a single day by any entertainment property. Microsoft said the game netted $170 million in sales in the United States in its first day. If true, that would top previous records set by the motion pictures Spider Man 3 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Consumers weren't the only ones going gaga over the game. The game won high praise from reviewers. Plenty of games attempted to duplicate the Halo formula, with varying degrees of success. But there's still nothing quite like the genuine item.

Luckily for all involved, Halo 3 is a positively amazing package that offers extreme satisfaction across all of its different parts, according to GameSpot's review of the game.

The release of Halo 3 could be a watershed moment for Microsoft and the Xbox 360. With a blockbuster title that will surely captivate millions across the globe, the Xbox 360 will be the most played video game console for the month of October and should catapult the system to the top of the video game world.

Halo 3 will undoubtedly be the biggest game of the year. For many casual gamers, the release of Halo 3 means that it's time to buy an Xbox 360. And it's this cadre of individuals for which Microsoft has been waiting.

Trouble calls on patents
After months of battle, Internet phone service Vonage has lost the bulk of its appeal in the Verizon Communications patent infringement case.

In March, a jury in Virginia found that Vonage had infringed on three patents held by Verizon. And it awarded Verizon $58 million in damages, along with future damages of 5.5 percent on the revenue that Vonage was making during the appeal process.

The judge in the case imposed an injunction on Vonage that would force the company to stop delivering a service using technology that infringes on Verizon's patents. But because Vonage has been appealing the case, the injunction has not yet gone into effect.

On Wednesday, Vonage's appeal essentially came to an end. And as the legal dust settles, the small voice over IP company now faces the possibility of paying hefty monetary damages and a total shutdown of its IP telephony service.

Vonage was dealt another serious legal blow when a federal jury found the company had infringed on six patents held by Sprint Nextel. The jury ordered Vonage to pay Sprint $69.5 million in damages.

Sprint sued Vonage in 2005, claiming that the company was infringing on seven Sprint patents that dealt with connecting Internet phone calls. Vonage denied the claims and argued that Sprint's patents shouldn't have been approved in the first place.

Vonage said in a statement that it will appeal the federal court's verdict. Vonage also said it will develop technological work-arounds that don't infringe on Sprint's patents.

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