The New York Times reports that a federal jury has ordered Microsoft to pay $1.5 billion in a patent dispute over the MP3 format. If this ruling is upheld on appeal, it would mark the largest patent judgment on record. This ruling was a victory for Alcatel-Lucent, a networking equipment company. One of the company’s forebears was Bell Laboratories, which was involved in the development of MP3. At issue is the way Windows Media Player handles files using MP3, which is the most common method of distributing audio content on the web. If the ruling stands, Apple and scores of other companies that make portable music players, computers, and software stand to pay royalties to Alcatel…

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/23/technology/23patent.html?_r=1&ref=technology&oref=slogin