1.5 BILLION dollars!

Posted: February 22, 2007 in Uncategorized
That’s the latest patent-infringment bill that Microsoft was ordered to pay today to Alcatel-Lucent. It concerns patented technology built into Windows Media Player, specifically the ability to convert analog sound files into a digital format called MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3…known to the world as MP3.
The short story is that back in 1989, AT&T Bell Labs commissioned a company called Fraunhofer Institute to develop MP3 technology. AT&T spun off Bell Labs in 1996, at which point Bell Labs became Lucent Technologies. However, Fraunhofer Institute has made millions of dollars licensing that MP3 technology to hundreds of other companies. Last year Alcatel purchased Lucent, and their first order of business: sue Microsoft. Why? Possibly cuz there is no concise MP3 patent ownership between Fraunhofer and Lucent…but the entire tech industry is under the impression that if they have to license MP3, they license thru Fraunhofer. And somehow, Alcatel was able to convince the patent office to backdate one of their "purchased" patents to 1988…before any development of MP3 ever happened.
Now that a jury has ruled that Microsoft licensed MP3 technology from the wrong company, who’s next? Let’s begin alphabetically: Apple Computers sells tiny devices called iPods that probably infringe on MP3 patents. AOL (America Online) owns a very popular software program called WinAmp that probably infringes on MP3 patents. There are tons of other software and players out there, a virtually limitless supply of litigation.
Does your phone play MP3? Nokia, Samsung, LG, Motorola, countless others…they are probably all vulnerable.
Here’s the really big one: you know those DVD movies sitting on your shelf? That’s right…all of them utilize MPEG technology for the audio of your favorite movies. Now add the deeeeeep pockets of Universal, Sony, Paramount, Warner Brothers and…
Wow, 1.5 billion is just the tip of the iceberg…

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