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Microsoft ordered to pay US$388m in patent dispute

AFP AND DPA , NEW YORK AND BONN, GERMANY

A US federal jury ordered software giant Microsoft on Wednesday to pay US$388 million to Uniloc for infringing on an anti-piracy software patent held by the Singapore and US-based company.

The award was made by a jury hearing the case in a district court in the US state of Rhode Island. The jury ordered Microsoft to compensate Uniloc for infringing on a patent for a security algorithm held by Uniloc.

The complaint against Microsoft was filed by Uniloc Singapore Private Ltd and Uniloc USA Inc in October 2003. Uniloc had accused Microsoft of infringing on its patent in its Windows operating systems, which power most of the world’s personal computers, and in Office programs.

Microsoft said it would seek to have the verdict overturned.

Microsoft had previously won the case, but Uniloc convinced an appeals court to overturn the judge’s ruling, arguing that the case was influenced by the testimony of an expert witness who had conflicts of interest.

Meanwhile, Germany’s main competition agency, the Federal Cartel Office, fined Microsoft 9 million euros (US$12 million) on Wednesday for imposing a retail price for its Office Home & Student 2007 software.

Microsoft said it would pay the fine to avoid a lengthy legal dispute and was reviewing its internal processes in Germany to ensure they complied with German law in future.

The Bonn-based agency said Microsoft had harmed free competition by exerting improper influence on the selling price of the software through a major chain, which was not identified in the announcement.

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