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Microsoft has successfully dodged a court ruling that would have sent hundreds of millions of Redmond dollars to long-running litigant Alcatel-Lucent.

An appeal overturned a $358m award to the telecoms equipment company, after Microsoft was found to have infringed on an Alcatel patent in Outlook.

Judges heading the appeal said that while Microsoft had infringed, the damage lacked evidentiary support. The case has been sent back down to the lower court for fresh damages.

The case claimed Outlook's calendaring function infringed on the patent in the way it displays a month's calendar as a grid and then translates the date into an appointment date form.

Microsoft had argued that it should only pay $6.5m, but Alcatel claimed the patent was worth more, based on Outlook sales, and it deserved $358m.

Appeals judge Paul Mitchel indicated Alcatel had failed to prove the patent was worth what it claimed. He said it had been Alcatel's burden to prove that the licenses relied on were sufficiently comparable to sustain a lump-sum damages award of $358 million. ®

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