Chalk up another Linux patent deal for Microsoft

Summary:Another Linux vendor has agreed to a cross-patent licensing patent deal with Microsoft. The latest is consumer-electronics vendor LG Electronics. Who will be the next Linux/open-source company to sign on the dotted line?

Another Linux vendor has agreed to a cross-patent licensing patent deal with Microsoft.

The latest is consumer-electronics vendor LG Electronics. Neither Microsoft nor LG Electronics is commenting on the financial terms of the deal. But here's what is covered, according to Microsoft's June 6 press release announcing the LG Electronics-Microsoft licensing arrangement:

"Through the agreement, LGE will be able to use Microsoft-patented innovations in its products, including Linux-based embedded devices. Microsoft will have access to LGE’s patents and will license other patents developed by LGE that are now owned by business solutions provider MicroConnect Group. The specific financial terms of the agreement are confidential, but the parties are disclosing that Microsoft will be making a net balancing payment to LGE and MicroConnect for patents related to operating systems and computer systems. LGE will be making ongoing payments to Microsoft for the value of Microsoft patents as they relate to Linux-based embedded devices that LGE produces."

While Microsoft doesn't call out specifically any agreement not to sue LG Electronics Linux customers over alleged patent infringements, it does sound like that is part of the agreement.

"The structure of the agreement with LG is very similar to the Novell structure. The coverage of LGE's Linux-based embedded devices is being handled via direct customer patent covenants," a Microsoft spokeswoman told me, via e-mail.

The roster of Linux vendors signing patent deals with Microsoft is growing. On the current list: Novell, Fuji Xerox, Samsung, Xandros and now LG Electronics. So far, only two of these (Novell and Xandros) are Linux distro companies.

(I'd love to hear specifics about what Microsoft is showing/telling these vendors, re: the  235 Microsoft patents upon which open-source software allegedly infringes.)

Who will be the next Linux/open-source company to sign on the dotted line?

Topics: Hardware, Legal, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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