A week after Microsoft was ordered to hand over $1.5 billion in an Alcatel-Lucent MP3 patent dispute, a federal judge has ruled that the Windows maker did not violate a patent at the heart of a second trial that was set to begin soon.
The ruling from the bench by U.S. District Judge Rudi Brewster in San Diego late Thursday relates to an Alcatel-Lucent patent covering speech coding technology, the companies said. The judge dismissed all of Alcatel-Lucent's claims, which means a jury trial set to begin March 19 will not proceed, Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans said.
Alcatel-Lucent plans to appeal the ruling and is "comfortable with our chances of success as the case makes its way through the legal system," spokeswoman Joan Campion said Friday.
Microsoft deputy general counsel Tom Burt said the ruling "reaffirms our confidence that once there's judicial review of these complex patent cases, these Alcatel-Lucent claims ultimately won't stand up."
The first of what was scheduled to be four back-to-back patent trials concluded last week with a substantial loss for Microsoft. A federal jury ordered the Windows maker to pay $1.5 billion to Alcatel-Lucent for violating two patents related to MP3 audio technology. A Microsoft representative said at the time that the company would consider filing an appeal.
The dispute dates back to 2002, when Lucent (now Alcatel-Lucent) sued PC makers Dell and Gateway over their use of the audio technology. Microsoft entered the legal fray and has been embroiled in a widening legal battle with Alcatel-Lucent ever since. Microsoft has also countersued, and there have been additional actions in other legal venues, including an International Trade Commission case filed last week.
The next trial, which involves several user interface-related patents, is scheduled to begin May 21 in San Diego, Evans said.
CNET News.com's Ina Fried contributed to this report.