Microsoft licenses old Palm OS patents from Acacia

Ahead of the release of Windows Phone 7, Microsoft has signed up as a licensee of dozens of patents that originated with PalmSource, Palm, Bell Communications Research and Geoworks

Microsoft has licensed 74 smartphone-related patents that belong to Access, the Japanese firm that purchased PalmSource in 2005.

The deal, announced on Thursday, includes the rights to use patents that originated with PalmSource, Palm, Bell Communications Research and Geoworks. Microsoft got the rights through a subsidiary of Acacia Research, a company that partners with patent holders to license their patents to corporations, for a cut of the proceedings.

Details of the licensing deal are scarce — Microsoft has not issued comment, and Acacia has not named the patents either. However, according to the Wall Street Journal, some of the patents were involved in a suit Acacia launched in March against Apple, Research In Motion, Samsung, Motorola and other manufacturers of smartphones. That lawsuit related to functionality such as email synchronisation.

When Access bought PalmSource, it got the Palm OS used in older Palm devices as part of the deal. Palm went on to use a new operating system, WebOS, which is — along with Palm itself — now the property of HP, but Access worked Palm OS into its Access Linux Platform (ALP). First announced in 2006, ALP has failed to make it into any production smartphones.

Microsoft also has a new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7. Handsets based on the new OS will reportedly be made available on 21 October.


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