Microsoft Corp. says French telecom equipment maker Alcatel-Lucent infringed on its patents for “unified communications” products, and the U.S. International Trade Commission on Tuesday voted to begin an investigation. “The systems and products at issue in this investigation integrate the features of data networks and traditional telephone networks, allowing the user to configure communications options in multiple ways from a single interface, such as a computer display,” according to the ITC. The ITC is an independent federal agency that performs economic research on trade agreements and investigates unfair trade practices. The agency can bar imports of products that infringe U.S. patents and trademarks. The software giant, which filed the complaint on Feb. 16, is asking the ITC to bar Alcatel-Lucent from importing products that it says infringes on patents for three of its “unified communications technologies:” Microsoft Communicator, Communications Server and Exchange Server. “We’re pleased the ITC has agreed to review the case and we have made repeated efforts to make sure Alcatel-Lucent respects and acknowledges our patented innovations,” Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans said. Representatives from Alcatel-Lucent did not immediately return calls for comment Tuesday evening. In a separate case, a federal jury last month ruled that Microsoft infringed on two MP3 patents from Alcatel-Lucent and must pay US$1.52 billion (euro1 billion) in damages, although Microsoft plans to appeal that decision.