Microsoft To Appeal Uniloc Case, Pay Other Fines

Microsoft may face millions in losses following two separate legal decisions announced on Wednesday.

First, a U.S. court returned a $388 million jury verdict against Microsoft involving an intellectual property dispute with Irvine, Calif.- and Singapore-based Uniloc. Next, a German antitrust agency fined Microsoft nine million euros ($12 million) over the potential price fixing of a Microsoft Office edition.

The U.S. jury found for Uniloc and against Microsoft in Rhode Island's federal court. The jury's $388 million decision involved an intellectual property complaint by Uniloc that originally had been filed back in 2003.

The Uniloc dispute involved an anti-piracy protection feature in Microsoft's product activation system. The technology used hashing algorithms to track the "unique IDs" of software licensees. A blog by CNET's Ina Fried described the products involved as "Windows XP, Office XP and Windows Server 2003." 

Microsoft plans to appeal the U.S. court's verdict in the Uniloc case.
"We are very disappointed in the jury verdict," stated David Bowermaster, a Microsoft spokesperson, by e-mail. "We believe that we do not infringe, that the patent is invalid and that this award of damages is legally and factually unsupported. We will ask the court to overturn the verdict."

Also on Wednesday, Microsoft accepted a $12 million fine imposed by the Bundeskartellamt, a Bonn, Germany-based organization that enforces Germany's "Act against Restraints of Competition" laws. The issue concerned Microsoft's talks with an unnamed German retailer selling Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 software.

"Even before the launch of the advertising campaign in mid-October 2008, employees of Microsoft and the retailer in question had agreed on at least two occasions on the resale price of the software package 'Office Home & Student 2007,'" a Bundeskartellamt press release explained.

Coordination of pricing with retailers goes against Germany's competition laws.

"We respect German competition law and are committed to running our business in full compliance with all German laws and regulations," a Microsoft spokesperson stated by e-mail. "We will use this case as an opportunity to review our internal commercial processes and ensure that we are in full compliance with German law."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.


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