At&t Dect 6.0 Digital Answering System User's Manual

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Microsoft Corp. AT&T Corp., 550 U.S. 437 (2007), was a United States (U.S.) Supreme Court case in which the Supreme Court reversed a previous decision by the Federal Circuit and ruled in favor of Microsoft, holding that Microsoft was not liable for infringement on AT&T's patent under 35 U.S.C.

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Microsoft Corp. v. AT&T Corp.
Argued February 21, 2007
Decided April 30, 2007
Full case nameMicrosoft Corporation v. AT&T Corp.
Docket no.05-1056
Citations550 U.S.437 (more)
127 S. Ct. 1746; 167 L. Ed. 2d 737; 2007 U.S. LEXIS 4744; 75 U.S.L.W. 4307; 82 U.S.P.Q.2d 1400
Case history
PriorNo. 1:01-cv-04872 (S.D.N.Y. (Mar. 5, 2004); affirmed, 414 F.3d1366 (Fed. Cir. 2005); cert. granted, 549U.S. 991 (2006).
Federal Circuit's judgment was reversed, Microsoft was not liable for patent infringement under §271(f)
Court membership
Chief Justice
John Roberts
Associate Justices
John P. Stevens·Antonin Scalia
Anthony Kennedy·David Souter
Clarence Thomas·Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Stephen Breyer·Samuel Alito
Case opinions
MajorityGinsburg, joined by Scalia, Kennedy, and Souter
ConcurrenceAlito, joined by Thomas, Breyer
Roberts took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
Laws applied
35 U.S.C.§ 271(f)

Microsoft Corp. v. AT&T Corp., 550 U.S. 437 (2007),[1] was a United States (U.S.) Supreme Court case in which the Supreme Court reversed a previous decision by the Federal Circuit and ruled in favor of Microsoft, holding that Microsoft was not liable for infringement on AT&T's patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271(f).[2]

In this case, Microsoft exported abroad the 'master version' of its Windows software disk, which incorporated a speech processing function claimed by one of AT&T's patents, with the intent that such software be copied abroad for installation onto foreign-manufactured computers.

According to the Supreme Court, liability for such unauthorized replication and installation would have to arise under the patent laws of those foreign countries, not the U.S. Patent Act.[3] Although AT&T argued that the Supreme Court's decision actually created a 'loophole' for software makers to avoid liability under § 271(f), the Supreme Court explained that it is Congress, not the Court, that is responsible for addressing any such loopholes.[4]

  • 1Background
  • 2Opinion of the court
    • 2.3The Supreme Court's opinion: Reversed
  • 3Impact


Factual background[edit]

AT&T held a patent (US Patent No. 4472832) on a program that could digitally encode and compress recorded speech on a computer.[5] Microsoft's Windowsoperating system had the potential to infringe that patent because Windows incorporated a software called NetMeeting that, when installed, enabled a computer to process speech in the same manner as claimed by AT&T's patent. Microsoft shipped abroad a 'master version' of Windows, either on a disk or via encrypted electronic transmission, to foreign manufacturers.[1] These manufacturers first used the master version of Windows to generate copies, and then installed the copies onto the computers they sold to users abroad. AT&T accused Microsoft of infringing U.S. Patent Re. 32580,[6] which was a reissue of U.S. Patent No. 4472832, and filed a suit charging Microsoft with liability for the foreign replications and installations of Windows.[7]

In general, no patent infringement occurred when a patented product was made and sold in another country. However, section 271(f) of the Patent Act, in response to Deepsouth Packing Co. v. Laitram Corp and adopted in 1984,[8] provided that infringement would occur when one 'supplies' a patented invention's 'components' from the United States for the purpose of 'combination' abroad.[1]

Procedural background[edit]

In 2001, AT&T filed an infringement suit to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, charging Microsoft with liability for the foreign installations of Windows. Microsoft responded that: (1) Windows software could not be a “component” of a patented invention within the meaning of § 271(f)[2] because it was intangible information; (2) even if the Windows software were a “component,” no actual “components” had been “supplied” from the United States as required by § 271(f) because the copies installed on the foreign-assembled computers had all been made abroad.[9]

However, rejecting all these responses, the District Court held Microsoft liable under § 271(f).[2] After Microsoft appealed, a divided panel of the Federal Circuit still affirmed the District Court's decision.[10] In October 2006, the Supreme Court finally agreed to address the conflicting case law surrounding § 271(f) by granting a writ of certiorari. Oral argument was held on February 26, 2007 in front of eight Justices. On April 30, 2007, the Supreme Court reversed the Federal Circuit and ruled in favor of Microsoft.

Opinion of the court[edit]

The District Court's opinion: in favor of AT&T[edit]

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York explained that § 271(f)[2] did not limit “components” to only physical machines or tangible structures, but also intangible information or data.[9] Therefore, the district court rejected Microsoft's argument that software can not be a “component” of a patented invention under § 271(f).

As for the copies made abroad, the district court held that such copies should still be considered as “supplied from' the United States because the code or master disk used for foreign replication was originally manufactured and shipped from the U.S.[9] Therefore, the court denied Microsoft's claim that foreign copies should not be considered as 'supplied from' the United States. By considering the legislative intent of § 271(f) to prohibit the circumvention of infringement through exportation, the Court ruled that Microsoft was liable for patent infringement. Microsoft appealed

The Federal Circuit's opinion: Affirmed[edit]

The appellate court relied on prior Federal Circuit case law Eolas Technologies Incorporated v. Microsoft Corporation and held that software code alone qualifies as an invention eligible for patenting. Since statutory language does not limit § 271(f) to patented ‘machines’ or ‘physical structures,’ software can very well be a ‘component’ of patented invention under § 271(f)”.[11]

The Federal Circuit also explained that the act of 'copying' is subsumed in the act of 'supplying'. Therefore, the exportation of the master disk, with the specific intent to be replicated abroad, was an act considered as “supplied or caused to be supplied from the United States within the meaning of § 271(f).”[10]

However, Federal Circuit Judge Randall R. Rader objected to the view that “supplies” includes the act of foreign “copying”. Judge Rader expressed concerns that such an interpretation was an impermissible “extraterritorial expansion” of U.S. patent law because it reached copying activity overseas. In his view, AT&T's remedy lied not in U.S. law, but rather the law of the foreign country in which the infringement due to copying occurred.[10]

The Supreme Court's opinion: Reversed[edit]

The Supreme Court accepted Microsoft's petition for a writ of certiorari, mainly in order to answer two questions:

  1. Whether digital software code can be considered a “component of a patented invention” within the meaning of § 271(f)(1); and, if so,
  2. Whether copies of such a “component” made in a foreign country are considered as “supplied from the United States.”

On April 30, 2007, the Supreme Court, in a 7-1 majority, reversed the Federal Circuit ruling in favor of Microsoft.[12]

Majority opinion[edit]

The Supreme Court ruled that abstract software code was an “idea” lacking physical embodiment and it could not be a “usable, combinable part of a computer.”[1] Justice Ginsburg analogized abstract software code to a detailed set of instructions such as that of a blueprint. Further, she observed that Congress did not include the export of design tools such as blueprints in enacting the statutory provision. Therefore, Justice Ginsburg argued that the Windows software must be encoded or expressed in some sort of tangible medium, in order to be considered as a 'component' under § 271(f).[1] The Court thus denied AT&T's characterization of abstract software as a combinable component that qualified for § 271(f) liability.

Furthermore, the Court largely agreed that the copies of Windows used to install on the foreign computers were not considered as “supplied” from the United States. The distinction between “supply” and “copy” was legally relevant for liability purposes under § 271(f). Although software copying was much easier compared with the action of 'copy' in traditional industries, the liability should not be affected by the ease of copying.[1]

According to the reasoning above, the Court ruled that software code did not qualify as a component for purposes of triggering liability under § 271(f) and the copies installed onto the computers sold abroad were not considered as 'supplied' by Microsoft from the United States either.[1]

Concurring opinion[edit]

Microsoft suggested that even a disk shipped from the United States and used to install Windows directly on a foreign computer, would not give rise to liability under § 271(f) if the disk were removed after installation.

Justice Samuel Alito, in a concurrence joined by Justices Thomas and Breyer, agreed with Microsoft in terms of this particular issue, but through different reasoning as the majority opinion.[1]

He emphasized that § 271(f) required the component to be 'combined' with other components to form the infringing device, meaning that the component must remain a part of the device.[1] As for this case, once the copying and installation process were completed, the Windows program was recorded in a physical form in magnetic fields on the computers' hard drives. No physical aspect of the Windows CD-ROM—original disk or copy—was ever incorporated in the computer itself if the disk were removed after installation.[1]

Since no physical object originating from the United States was combined with those computers sold abroad, Justice Alito believed there was no patent infringement within the meaning of § 271(f) and it was irrelevant whether the Windows software was installed directly from the master disk or not.[1]


In a lone dissent, Justice Stevens disagreed with the Supreme Court's major opinion that the abstract software was analogous to an abstract set of instruction, i.e., a blueprint, and could not be regarded as a 'component'.[1]

In his view, unlike a blueprint that merely instructed a user how to do something, software actually directly caused infringing conduct to occur.[1] In addition, he argued that the abstract software code, whether embodied in a physical medium or not, should be considered a “component” within the meaning of § 271(f) because it had no other intended use except for installation onto a computer's hard drive.[1]

Based on these reasons, Justice Stevens explained that he would affirm previous Federal Circuit's majority opinion in this case.[1]


Opinions from the society[edit]

Because of the major impact the decision would have on the U.S. software industry, this case drew a lot of attention from both academics and leaders in the software industry. These interested parties, including law professors, the Department of Justice, and some software companies, submitted amicus briefs on behalf of AT&T and Microsoft.[13]


Microsoft had gained broad support in its defense efforts from the Bush administration, Inc., Intel Corp., Yahoo Inc., and also from industry groups such as the Business Software Alliance and the American Intellectual Property Law Association.[14]

One big concern from these Microsoft supporters was that a decision in favor of AT&T could have put the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office into the role of an arbiter of intellectual property worldwide and pushed software prices higher,[14] which could potentially lead to substantial losses of competitive advantage of U.S. manufacturers in foreign markets.[15]

The Software Freedom Law Center even filed an amicus brief urging that software was not eligible for patent protection because the courts had long held that laws of nature, abstract ideas, and mathematical algorithms were not eligible for patent protection, and software was nothing more than a description of a mathematical algorithm.[16]

Discussions of § 271(f)[edit]

In this case, the Supreme Court reversed the previous decisions from the Federal Circuit and the District Court, which raised some discussions on the extraterritorial applications[15] and possible revisions of § 271(f).

From some scholars, the Federal Circuit's decision on this case represented the peak of extraterritoriality in modern U.S. patent law [15] as 1) it expanded the definition of 'components' in § 271(f) to encompass intangible items and 2) it broadly interpreted “supply,” for the purposes of § 271(f), to include the act of providing a master component from which copies were made abroad.[15]

On the other hand, while the Supreme Court's conceded that their decision may effectively created a “loophole” for software companies to avoid liability under § 271(f),[1] they still rejected the Federal Circuit's broad interpretation of Section § 271(f) as it would have increased the number of products sold abroad within the reach of US patent laws, which may introduce inevitable conflict of different patent systems and standards in different countries.[17] Although the Supreme Court's decision could be seen as a blow to US patent holders like AT&T, actually these patent holders still had the alternative of enforcing these rights through foreign patent systems, which were the more appropriate protection mechanism.

In terms of the reach of US patent laws and § 271(f) potential revision for software industries, the Supreme Court had invited Congress to consider whether it was desirable to revise patent infringement liability under §271(f) to include exporting software within the intent that such product be copied abroad for use on foreign computers.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ abcdefghijklmnopMicrosoft Corp. v. AT&T Corp., 550U.S.437 (2007). This article incorporates public domain material from this U.S government document.
  2. ^ abcd35 U.S.C.§ 271(f).
  3. ^Yeh, Brian (2007). 'Exporting Software and the Extraterritorial Reach of U.S. Patent Law: Microsoft Corp. v. AT&T Corp'(PDF). CRS Report for Congress. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  4. ^Sacksteder, Michael, etc. (2007). 'Microsoft Corp. v. AT&T Corp. – The Supreme Court Limits the Extraterritorial Effect of 35 U.S.C. §271(f)'(PDF). Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  5. ^US patent 4472832, Bishnu S. Atal & Joel R. Remde, 'Ditial Speech Coder', published 1984-09-18
  6. ^'US Patent Re32580'. Bishnu S. Atal & Joel R. Remde, 'Ditial Speech Coder', published 1988-01-19. Archived from the original on 2015-09-21.Check date values in: date= (help)
  7. ^'Microsoft v. AT&T: Limiting the Extraterritorial Reach of U.S. Patent Law'. 2007. Retrieved 11 November 2012.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^Deepsouth Packing Co. v. Laitram Corp., 406U.S.518 (1972).
  9. ^ abcAT&T Corp. v. Microsoft Corp., No. 1:01-cv-04872 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 5, 2004).
  10. ^ abcMicrosoft Corp. v. AT&T Corp., 414 F.3d 1366 (Fed. Cir. 2005).
  11. ^Eolas Technologies Incorporated v. Microsoft Corporation, 399 F.3d 1325 (Fed. Cir 2005).
  12. ^Supreme Court's Proceedings and Orders Docket file information
  13. ^Koning, Drew (2008). 'Trying to Understand Software: Why Microsoft v. AT&T Was Mistakenly Decided'(PDF). Fordham Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Law Journal. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  14. ^ abKirk, Jeremy (2007). 'Supreme Court sides with Microsoft in AT&T case - A loss could have cost the software company hefty damages'. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  15. ^ abcdSean Fernandes, Microsoft Corp. v. AT&T: A Welcome Return to Patent Law's Tradition of Territoriality, 23 Berkeley Tech. L.J. 75 (2008).
  16. ^Lee, Tim (2007). 'Microsoft and free software movement tag-team the Supreme Court'. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  17. ^Lindgren, Jeffrey, etc. (2007). 'MICROSOFT v. AT&T: The Supreme Court Refuses to Further Expand the Reach of United States Patent Law Abroad'(PDF). Intellectual Property Today. Retrieved 11 November 2012.

Recent § 271(f) cases[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Text of Microsoft Corp. v. AT&T Corp., 550U.S. 437 (2007) is available from: CourtListenerGoogle ScholarJustiaOyez (oral argument audio)Supreme Court (slip opinion)
Retrieved from ''
AT&T Merlin 5-button telephone (voice terminal) manufactured in early 1985

The AT&T (also Lucent, now Avaya) Merlin telephone system was introduced in late 1983, branded American Bell Merlin. After the breakup of AT&T in 1984, it was rebranded AT&T Merlin. It was designed at the beginning of the 1980s prior to the Bell System Divestiture as a modern electronic replacement for the dated electromechanical 1A2 Key System. Earlier Bell attempts at an electronic key system, such as the Horizon and Dimension, were not as successful as were the much larger systems, in fact the Dimension was a PBX. The Merlin was the first small electronic system, replacing the Com Key 416. The Merlin system was originally sold in two-line, six-telephone (206); four-line, 10-telephone (410); and eight-line, 20-telephone (820) configurations. Later, there was a further 10-line, 30-telephone configuration, with an expansion KSU allowing the system to accommodate up to 70 telephones available (1030 and 3070 respectively).

  • 3Merlin 206, 410, 820 Accessory Information


At&t 2 Line Dect 6.0 Manual

The 1A2 Key Telephone System and later ComKey series (4-16, 7-18, 14-34) had the following problems which the Merlin System sought to solve:

  • Complex electromechanical line switches in every telephone
  • Each individual line pair plus control and light pairs must be run to each individual telephone, making for expensive on-premises wiring
  • Telephones were connected to one another using labor intensive point to point wiring
  • Control units consisted of many separate components including a power supply, line and feature module carrier, and punch blocks
  • Compared to more modern designs emerging in the 70's, manufacturing and maintaining the system became very expensive, especially by the 1980s
  • Basic features were present such as line switching, intercom, and hold but there was little possibility for addition of modern features


The Merlin System fixed these problems by:

  • Having line switching done completely electronically at the Control Unit (Horizon was the first to do so)
  • Using 4-pair wiring (two digital switching, one for analog and one for intercom). The Horizon system was also the first 'skinny cable' key system in the world and was introduced in the late 70's and like control unit switching provided the foundation of the system employed on Merlin[1]
  • An important advance in handset design was the use of printed circuit boards and automated assembly which were economical to produce. Horizon, Dimension and Merlin were leaders in the use of PCB based handsets.
  • Fully electronic, all inclusive, one piece control unit
  • Slots for feature modules made possible optional extra price features such as Speed Dialing, Automatic Line Selection, and Redial
  • The Merlin telephones were also backwards compatible to the higher end enterprise systems, such as then System 75 and System 85 systems, then later Definity system, now called Communication Manager platforms.

The original Merlin was replaced with the Merlin Plus system in the late 1980s, using circuit cards to be expandable to 8 lines and 20 telephones, much like the original 820 model. The original Merlin Plus was dubbed the 820d. It was identical in features to the earlier Merlin 820 with the Feature Package 2 cartridge installed. Following the 820d was the 820d2. The 820d2 included the previous features as the 820d but featured an Automatic System Access (ASA) processor coupled with a voice synthesis capabilities and a Busy Buster. The ASA processor provided users with call forwarding, direct extension dial, and system answer capabilities. The busy buster allowed users to have the 820d2 automatically retry a busy number every minute for up to 10 minutes and notify the user when the call was connected. Both the ASA and Busy Buster required a their own voice terminal port to function. In the early 1990s, the Merlin II and Merlin Legend debuted with even more features and expandability, and new MLX telephones, but the system was also backwards compatible with the original Merlin telephones.

A Merlin Legend system in an office building. There is at least electrical pin-compatibility between the Magix and the Legend, as a MagixDS1 board (colored grey) can be seen installed in this system.

In 1999, Lucent Technologies introduced the Merlin Magix as the replacement for the Merlin Legend. The Magix's carrier was metal and, as such, modules were not encased inside plastic shells as they were with the Legend. The Merlin Magix supported new 4400 series digital telephones as well as older MLX telephones, but it did not support the old ATL series telephones. One important item with the conversion of Legend to Magix, is how MLX telephones used 2-pair wiring and the newer Magix/4400 series phones only used a single (1) pair. This made the Magix easier to install and more competitive in the marketplace, as most other digital PBX systems only used a single (1) pair to each station/telephone.

Due to declining sales and the introduction of the IP Office product line, Avaya retired the Magix on April 1, 2006.

Despite being over two decades old, the Merlin's modern electronic features and legendary Bell System era quality and durability still make the Classic Merlins very popular telephone systems with small businesses.Merlin sets shared over 50 pieces of plastic with digital telephones of the Dimension PBX as well as membrane switch technology (a first use in AT&T), reducing product introduction costs in 1983.

At&t dect 6.0 manual pdf

Merlin 206, 410, 820 Accessory Information[edit]

Cartridge Type I[edit]

Feature Package 1 (Available for use in Classic Merlin 206, 410 only):

  • 5-party conference calling
  • Ringer options
  • Prevents outgoing calls on individual phones
  • Privacy
  • Automatic outside and intercom dialing
  • Last number redial, automatic line selection, do not disturb
  • On hook dialing, call transfer, hold reminder, group listening

Feature Package II (Included same features as Feature Package I plus the following)

  • Personal and system wide 3 digit speed dialing
  • Personalized Ringing
  • Call pickup
  • Group paging zones

Cartridge Type II[edit]

Music On Hold

  • Allows a music source to be connected to the KSU which is heard by a caller on hold

Music On Hold/Paging

  • Allows a music source to be connected to the KSU which is heard by a caller on hold
  • Provides a paging system connection and music on hold to be used as background music while no pages are being made.

Cartridge Type III[edit]

Power Failure/Extra Alert

  • Provides two RJ-11 jacks for standard touch-tone or rotary phone use in case of power failure.
  • Extra Alert jack for external notification device.

At&t Wireless


  1. ^

At&t Dect 6.0 El52300 Manual

  • AT&T Sourcebook Catalog 1992, 1993, 1995.
  • Merlin Installation, Programming & User GuidesMERLIN 410: All Documents
  • on the Merlin Magix discontinuation[permanent dead link]
  • Definity Enterprise Communications Server and System 75 and System 85 Terminals and Adjuncts Reference Manual December 1999,

At&t Dect 6.0 Digital Answering Machine Manual

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