This image was lost some time after publication.

It's almost certain to be tied up in appeal for quite some time, but a federal jury awarded Alcatel-Lucent $1.52 billion in damages versus Microsoft for patent infringement on the MP3 music format. Microsoft had paid a German consortium for use of the format years ago, but Alcatel-Lucent contended they were due cash as well, since one of their corporate forerunners (Bell Labs) was also involved in MP3 format development. Whatever happens to Microsoft, this represents a potentially serious headache for anyone else making MP3 players (hardware or software). Apple declined to comment, so perhaps we'll see Steve Jobs's "Thoughts on MP3 Patents" soon.