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.

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