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Trade Commission Says Alcatel-Lucent Didn't Violate Microsoft Patents

The U.S. International Trade Commission reversed itself Tuesday, ruling that Alcatel-Lucent did not violate certain communications technology patents held by Microsoft.

"There is no violation," the ITC said in its ruling, reversing an earlier decision by an administrative law judge.

Microsoft had claimed before the ITC that Alcatel-Lucent products stepped on its patents for "unified communications" tools, which cover a mix of technologies used in voice, data, e-mail, and instant messaging communications.

Administrative Law Judge Paul Luckern had previously ruled that Alcatel-Lucent violated one of four patents in dispute in the case. The ITC on Tuesday said it reversed the decision after "having reviewed the record in this investigation."

The ruling marks the latest episode in a long-running, and still ongoing, intellectual property dispute between Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent that has produced a series of lawsuits and countersuits in various jurisdictions around the country.

Alcatel-Lucent initially filed six related actions against Microsoft in federal court in San Diego alleging that Microsoft's Windows Media Player, Messenger, and other products infringe on patents it holds relating to MP3 music reproduction and speech recognition.

Federal Judge Rudi Brewster effectively dismissed the first case last year in a ruling that Alcatel-Lucent called "shocking and disturbing."

The second and third cases, which focused mostly on speech recognition and user interface patterns, have also been dismissed. One of them, however, was successfully reintroduced by Alcatel-Lucent.

A wholly separate case filed in the San Diego federal court district involves one patent owned by Alcatel-Lucent and 10 Microsoft patents that are the subject of suits and countersuits between the two companies.