Court finds Microsoft infringed AT&T codec patent

This has just got suck for Microsoft! Apparently one court has decided that MS has indeed infringed on a patent owned by AT&T speech-coding technology.

Microsoft (Profile, Products, Articles) infringed an AT&T patent for speech-coding technology in its distribution of a master version of the Windows operating system outside of the U.S. for replication abroad, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled Wednesday, concluding the final issue remaining from a 2001 lawsuit.

Microsoft agreed to an undisclosed settlement with AT&T in March of 2004 in the case, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, but as part of that agreement, the software maker was given the right to appeal liability for patent infringement. A three-judge panel from the Court of Appeals rendered Wednesday’s decision, with circuit judges Alan D. Lourie and Haldane Robert Mayer deciding that Microsoft infringed the AT&T patent and Randall R. Rader dissenting.

The District Court ruled that software copies made from a master version, sent from the U.S. are not shielded from patent law, which prohibits circumvention of infringement by exportation of products.

Microsoft argued on appeal that the District Court had erred in that finding. “According to Microsoft, a foreign-replicated copy made from a master version supplied from the United States has actually been ‘manufactured’ abroad by encoding a storage medium with the Windows software. “We disagree that no liability attaches,” Wednesday’s Appeals Court ruling said. [Read the rest]

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