Microsoft, Samsung in patent swap deal

Among other provisions, the pact covers Samsung and its customers for Linux-related products.
Written by Ina Fried, Contributor
As part of an ongoing effort to secure more patent cross-licensing deals, Microsoft said Wednesday that it has signed a pact with Korea's Samsung Electronics.

As with Microsoft's recent deal with Fuji Xerox, the software maker specifically notes that the deal will allow Samsung to offer products using Linux without concern that Microsoft will sue it or its customers.

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

The notion 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. Novell has since taken issue with Microsoft's assertion that the deal represents an acknowledgment that Linux infringes on Microsoft patents.

In addition to the Linux provision, the Samsung deal is also noteworthy, 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 disclose specific financial terms of the agreement, but said "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.

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