Microsoft Sued Over JPEG Patent

Scheduling software maker Forgent has filed suit against Microsoft for allegedly infringing on its patent that covers the technology behind JPEG image compression. But Microsoft has already made the first strike, filing its own lawsuit last week that asks the courts to nullify Forgent's patent.

Forgent says it was in talks with Microsoft over licensing the patent when Redmond made the first legal move. Forgent's lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Texas by the company's Compression Labs subsidiary.

"It's unfortunate that, despite Microsoft's recent inquiries about licensing the patent, they chose to file a lawsuit, leaving us no alternative but to assert infringement claims against it," Forgent CEO Richard Snyder said in a statement.


After unsuccessfully trying to sell its JPEG patent to Compaq, Forgent has switched its strategy to litigation - a tactic that has proven successful. Forgent has sued 44 companies thus far and raked in more than $100 million in licensing fees from 34 others.

Microsoft has yet to comment on the lawsuit, but Redmond is notorious for fighting patent infringement claims. Microsoft is still in a battle with Eolas over a patent covering Internet Explorer's plug-in architecture.

"The reported $100 million in licensing fees indicates a strong
patent, one likely to withstand Microsoft invalidity challenge. This is
not at all an indication that the patent system is broken. More likely,
it just demonstrates the need for careful planning in adopting industry
standards such JPEG as illustrated in the Rambus cases," said Bruce Wecker,
a partner with Hosie, Frost, Large & McArthur in San Francisco.

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