RealTime IT News

Microsoft, LGE Make For Fine Patent Partners

Microsoft  and South Korea's LG Electronics (LGE) inked a cross-license patent agreement to use each other's technologies. This is the latest in a spate of such agreements designed to ward off patent-infringement issues.

Going forward, LGE will be able to use Microsoft software in its products, such as Linux-based smartphones, PDAs and computers.

Microsoft will be able to access LGE's patents for its hardware products, such as the Xbox gaming console, and may license other patents developed by LGE that are owned by business solutions provider MicroConnect Group.

While exact financial terms of the deal were not made public, Microsoft will make a net balancing payment to LGE and MicroConnect for patents related to operating systems and computer systems.

LGE, in turn, will make ongoing payments to Microsoft for any Microsoft-patented technologies it employs in its embedded Linux devices.

The deal follows similar patent-licensing arrangements Microsoft has inked with Fuji Xerox Co. Ltd., NEC Corp. , Nortel Networks  and Samsung.

But Microsoft's deal with Novell  may be the most interesting and is definitely the broadest and most complex. In that wide-ranging pact, Microsoft, which views Linux as a threat to its business, licenses Novell's SUSE Linux offerings.

The companies also conduct joint interoperability for virtualization, virtualization management, and inter-office suite interoperability. Microsoft inked a similar deal with Linux provider Xandros earlier this week.

The software giant said in a statement the deals are designed "to develop a best-practices model for protecting intellectual property (IP)" and for "building bridges with an array of industry leaders, including consumer electronics, telecommunications and computer hardware providers."

Microsoft's intent to prevent IP infringement reflects the newfound caution high-tech vendors are exhibiting in the wake of several high-profile patent cases, including the case RIM  lost versus NTP to the tune of $612.5 million.

Such settlements have stirred action in Congress, where Democrats and Republicans introduced the Patent Reform Act of 2007 to more narrowly define willful infringement, which brings treble damages.

The bill would also reduce the amount of infringement awards to the actual value of the covered patent, as opposed to the overall value of a product containing the technology.