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Threats had been more likely to come from small firms that acquire patents with the express aim of launching suits against big rich tech giants. The risk now, with the hefty award against Microsoft, is that many more firms will consider launching similar cases as the potential rewards are evidently so great. Microsoft, for example, has filed a counter-suit against Alcatel-Lucent for infringing its messaging patents. Microsoft has also in recent years been building up its arsenal of patents. That may indicate a breakdown of a system that has helped to deter the big tech firms from fighting each other and that provided the conditions for rapid and wide innovations. On the other hand, making patent law more effective could encourage precisely the sort of innovation that will deliver the next generation of devices, whatever they may be, for music distribution.