Microsoft has been having a few good days in court lately.

On Oct. 5, news rolled out that its law firm, Fish & Richardson, managed to roll back a $511.6 million damaged award leveled against it in a patent-infringement battle with Alcatel-Lucent. That case involved Microsoft’s calendar date-picker tool, and basically redefined the term “protracted” on a year-by-year basis: no less than three jury trials, three appeals, and a reversal of $2 billion in jury verdicts had to pass before the seven-year case could conclude.

It’s not the first time that the two companies have gone toe-to-toe. In 2002, Alcatel-Lucent sued Dell and Gateway over their use of Windows Media Player to play MP3s and DVDs, arguing that it violated the company’s MP3-related patents. That lawsuit eventually involved Microsoft, which eventually had the $1.538 billion verdict leveled against it overturned.

That on top of Microsoft’s Sept. 28 victory in the patent-infringement case leveled against it by Uniloc, rolling back a $388 million judgment, means that things are looking a little brighter for Redmond, which had been battered on the legal front by i4i, a small Canadian company that nonetheless managed to win an August judgment in East Texas court that would have pulled all copies of Microsoft Word from store shelves within 60 days.

In that case, i4i argued that Microsoft Word’s code violated its XML-related patent. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Washington) granted Microsoft’s request to keep selling Word while the case’s appeal works its way through the system, but Redmond is still faced with the specter of paying nearly $300 million in fines.

For Microsoft on the legal front, it’s looking like two down, one to go.


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