A smidge of news on Microsoft’s latest legal tangles came out on July 13 that was easy enough to miss. A federal appeals court upheld a lower court decision that the software giant was liable on Windows sales overseas for infringing on speech-recognition technology patents held by AT&T.
While Microsoft’s dispute with European regulators gets most of the headlines, plenty of other cases are keeping Bill Gates’s lawyers busy.
And that’s despite all the effort Microsoft has put into resolving its legal disputes in recent years. It actually settled part of the AT&T matter in March, 2004, leaving the remaining bits to be litigated. Even after paying out more than $6 billion in settlements in the last two years, Microsoft could still be on the hook for well over $1 billion more based on pending cases.
Perhaps the suit with biggest potential settlement is RealNetworks’ (RNWK) claims that Microsoft used its Windows monopoly to stymie Real’s efforts to get consumers to use its media playing technology. The Seattle company, run by former Microsoft exec Rob Glaser, is seeking $1 billion in damages.