Broad Patent Agreement signed by Microsoft and Samsung

Microsoft and Samsung logos On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that it has penned a deal with Korea’s Samsung Electronics, which is a part of an ongoing effort to secure more patent cross-licensing pacts.

In March, Microsoft signed a patent swap deal with Fuji Xerox that paves the way for the companies to use each other’s technology. With respect to that, the Redmond, Washington, USA, specifically notes that the deal will allow Samsung to offer products using Linux without concern that Microsoft will sue it or its customers.

David Kaefer, Microsoft’s general manager of intellectual-property licensing said, “This is kind of a theme we expect people will see in future patent cross-licenses that Microsoft reaches.”

The belief that customers and businesses need Microsoft’s legal go-ahead to run Linux has been controversial for some time, with the issue rising to the surface last November after Microsoft reached an accord with Linux vendor Novell. Since then, Novell has taken issue with Microsoft’s assertion that the deal represents an acknowledgment that Linux infringes on Microsoft patents. In fact in the past 12 months, Microsoft has announced similar agreements with companies such as Fuji Xerox Co. Ltd., NEC, Nortel, Novell Inc. and Seiko Epson Corp.

“Offering customers elegant, highly desirable products requires advanced scientific research and design inspiration,” said Shung Hyun (Peter) Cho, senior vice president of the Digital Media R&D Center at Samsung Electronics. “Patent collaboration agreements like this expand access to ideas and lead to even more desirable products for our customers.”

“We are always looking for new opportunities to work collaboratively within the industry, and Samsung was a natural fit, particularly because of its leadership in the rapidly changing world of digital media technologies,” said Horacio Gutierrez, vice president of Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft. “Companies that collaborate are in the best position to deliver the products and service that their customers demand.”

Apart from the Linux provision, the Samsung deal is also significant, as the Korean company holds one of the largest collections of U.S. patents and last year published the most U.S. patents of any company, Microsoft said.

“This is sort of a milestone in the long-running patent cross-licensing plan we’ve had in place,” Kaefer said. The deal encompasses both hardware and software products, though it covers Samsung’s electronics and computer units, but not its telecommunications division.

The companies did not reveal specific financial terms of the agreement; however it mentioned that “both parties will receive monetary payments compensating them for the value of their portfolios.” The size of the payments will vary based on each company’s business results, Kaefer said.