Microsoft to pay $242 million fine in Cortana patent lawsuit

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Microsoft will pay a hefty $242 million fine for patent infringement in a lawsuit related to the company’s virtual assistant, Cortana. According to the jury verdict, Microsoft’s technology violated a patent owned by IPA Technologies, a subsidiary of Wi-LAN. Consequently, the jury awarded IPA $242 million in damages.

The lawsuit centered on voice recognition technology used in Cortana. IPA claimed that Microsoft’s virtual assistant infringed on a patent acquired from SRI International’s Siri Inc., the developers behind Apple’s Siri virtual assistant. Microsoft contested these claims, arguing their technology didn’t violate the patent and that the patent itself was invalid.

This isn’t IPA’s first patent lawsuit against tech giants. Previously, they sued both Google and Amazon for alleged infringements of similar patents. While Amazon successfully defended itself in 2021, the case against Google continues.

What this means for Microsoft and the future of Cortana

In late 2023, Microsoft announced ending support for Cortana as a standalone app. While Cortana functionality remains integrated with Windows and other Microsoft products, the company seems to be shifting away from dedicated virtual assistants. It’s unclear how this $242 million fine will impact Cortana’s future development within the Microsoft ecosystem.

Microsoft plans to appeal the decision. An appeal could take months or even years to resolve, and the final outcome remains uncertain. If the verdict is upheld, the company could be forced to modify Cortana or potentially enter into licensing agreements with IPA.

While the lawsuit itself is technical, it highlights ongoing legal battles surrounding intellectual property in the tech industry. Companies like IPA play a role in enforcing patent rights, and their lawsuits can have a significant financial impact on major tech corporations, as evidenced by Microsoft’s case. Additionally, IPA’s targeting of multiple tech giants with similar lawsuits suggests a trend of patent enforcement within the virtual assistant space, potentially impacting how these technologies develop in the future.

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