U.S. rejects Alcatel patent, could affect award

SEATTLE, April 13 (Reuters) - The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected two patents claimed by French telecoms equipment Alcatel-Lucent ALUA.PA, which could end up nullifying a multi-million dollar damages award against software maker Microsoft Corp MSFT.O.

Last April, a U.S. federal court jury awarded Alcatel-Lucent $358 million in damages from Microsoft for violating patents relating to technology that allows users to enter dates into calendars, known as the “Day” patent. The value of the award is now more than $500 million with interest.

Microsoft is appealing the jury verdict -- which was later upheld in federal district court -- before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, and said the patent office decision will bolster its arguments.

“We are confident the federal circuit will agree with the Patent Office that the “Day” patent is invalid and will reverse the lower court’s ruling,” said David Bowermaster, a Microsoft spokesperson.

Alcatel-Lucent said the patent issue was not yet closed.

“This latest action does not necessarily conclude the (patent) reexamination process,” said spokeswoman Mary Ward. “Alcatel-Lucent does have additional procedures available to it at the Patent Office that we intend to pursue.”

The “Day” patent dispute is the last part of a large, long-running, multi-billion dollar patent dispute between Alcatel-Lucent and Microsoft. The remainder of the litigation was resolved last December. (Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing Bernard Orr)