Lucent Sues Microsoft over Xbox

Lucent Technologies has filed suit against Microsoft for patent infringement over technology used in its Xbox 360 game console.

At the center of the dispute is a patent on a technique for implementing video frames, issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to Lucent on July 19, 1993, according to legal papers filed by the company in U.S. District Court in San Diego. Lucent, which is in the process of merging with Alcatel, filed the papers on March 28.

Lucent claims Microsoft is using its patented technology in the Xbox 360's built-in MPEG-2 decoding capability. MPEG-2 is the latest industry standard for encoding video found on DVDs.

Microsoft released the Xbox 360 game console in the U.S. last November; it is now available in more than 15 countries.

Second Battle

The patent in question is No. 5,227,878, described as "Adaptive Coding and Decoding of Frames and Fields of Video." The same patent has previously been the subject of legal dispute between Lucent and Microsoft. In a 2003 suit, the tables were turned, with Microsoft suing Lucent in an effort to obtain a judgment of noninfringement, according to court papers. The company was successful; a judge last year granted summary judgment in Microsoft's favor because of a typographical error in the patent.

Lucent has since corrected the error with the USPTO and received an official patent correction notice, according to last week's filing. Although Microsoft was awarded a judgment in the previous case concerning the same patent, the judgment in that case did not bar Lucent from taking separate action against Microsoft in the future, Lucent said in court papers.

Before taking its latest legal action, Lucent notified Microsoft of what it called "willful" infringement of its patent, but did not cease distribution or production of the Xbox 360, according to papers filed by Lucent.

Lucent is seeking unspecified damages from Microsoft and is requesting a jury trial to resolve the suit.

Neither Lucent nor Microsoft responded to requests for comment on Tuesday.

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