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Microsoft files patent suit against Belkin

U2 – but nothing to do with Bono

Microsoft yesterday filed a patent-infringement complaint with the US ITC (International Trade Commission) against Belkin for importing products the software company claims infringe on a patent it holds for peripheral device technology.

According to Microsoft, Belkin uses a technology called 'U2' in several of its mouse products. U2, for which Microsoft holds a patent, enables a computer peripheral device to auto-sense whether the device is plugging into a PS2 or USB port on a computer and to connect to it.

Microsoft has been in licensing discussions with Belkin about U2 for more than two years but has reached no agreement, which is why the software company is filing the complaint, said Tom Burt, corporate vice-president and deputy general counsel for Microsoft, in a statement via email.

"Several companies license U2 technology from Microsoft, and Belkin's use of this technology without paying for it is unfair to companies who invent, respect and pay for this property," he wrote.

Microsoft said it filed the complaint with the ITC rather than filing it in a US court because it wants to prevent Belkin from bringing products that infringe on its patent into the US in the first place. Though Belkin is a US company, the products in question are manufactured outside of the country, Microsoft said.

Yesterday Belkin spokeswoman Melody Chalaban said via email that the company has not yet been served with the complaint and so has no comment at this time.

Microsoft said it is not seeking monetary damages from Belkin, but just wants the company to stop importing products that infringe on its U2 patent into the US unless it begins licensing the technology from Microsoft.

Microsoft said it expects the ITC to decide on its complaint within 12 to 18 months.

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