Apple and Microsoft have cross patent deal, keeps the lawyers away

For those who are not aware, Apple and Samsung are currently fighting it out in the courts because Apple has accused Samsung of copying its designs. While it is up to the courts and a jury to decide if Samsung did blatantly copy Apple's designs and software, during the debates word surfaced that Apple has licensed some patents to Microsoft (and vice-versa)

Reuters posted up that during the trial, Apple patent licensing director Boris Teksler, revealed during his testimony that Apple and Microsoft entered into an agreement that contained an anti-cloning agreement. The agreement prevents Microsoft from churning out exact copies of the iPad/iPhone which, as you can guess, is what Apple is accusing Samsung is doing, but the agreement does allow Microsoft to use its patents outside of this endeavor. 

The trial indicates that Apple tried to ink a deal with Samsung in 2010 but they could not come to an agreement. After talks broke down, the lawsuite against Samsung was filed by Apple and the result is the court case going on today. 

Another source, Cnet, claims that the statements (quoted by Reuters) were part of a cross-licensing deal which gave Microsoft access to Apple's patents and Apple access to Microsoft's IP. This seems more plausiable as the two companies have been working together for sometime and their relationship benefits significantly from cross-patent licensing. CNet states:

Of note, Teksler said that Apple's long-running cross-licensing deal with Microsoft allowed the Windows maker access to all the patents in this case, including the design patents. With that said, there are specific rules in place with that deal to keep the two sides in check so that they don't make what Teksler referred to as a "clone" product.

"There's a clear acknowledgment that there's no cloning," he said.

Whatever way you want to look at it, Apple and Microsoft have agreed to terms to leverage each others intellectual property with an anti-cloning clause. The deal is not surprising but why Samsung was unwilling to work with Apple (or was it Apple unwilling to work with Samsung) will hopefully be revealed when this court case comes to a close. 

Source: Reuters | CNet

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