Another Patent Protection Deal for Microsoft

Microsoft continues to push forward its program granting amnesty to potential patent violators, this time inking South Korea's LG Electronics (LGE) to a deal.

In an announcement yesterday, Microsoft and LGE agreed to a patent cross-license pact, with LGE paying Microsoft on an ongoing basis for "for the value of Microsoft patents as they relate to Linux-based embedded devices that LGE produces," according to an LGE press release. LGE is an electronics giant that makes a host of different devices including cell phones, notebook computers, optical storage devices, plasma televisions and large home appliances like refrigerators and washing machines.

Microsoft will also have access to LGE's patents and will license other patents developed by LGE that are owned by the company MicroConnect Group, the press release stated.

"This agreement is another example of how Microsoft is continuing to build bridges with others in the industry through intellectual property licensing", Horacio Gutierrez, vice president, Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft, said in the release.

Not everyone has seen it that way, however. In fact, Gutierrez helped spark a wildfire that has blazed out of control with an interview he gave to Fortune magazine that claimed open source software (OSS), and in particular Linux and Microsoft Office competitor OpenOffice, have violated 235 Microsoft patents.

The LGE deal follows closely on the heels of a similar agreement Microsoft signed with small Linux developer Xandros Inc. Monday. Andreas Typaldos, Xandros' CEO, said that his company approached Microsoft about a patent agreement following the announcement, last Nov. 6, of a patent-protection covenant with major Linux distributor Novell. In that interview, Typaldos said the deal wasn't made "out of fear" of possible legal action Microsoft might take against alleged patent infringers.

However, Microsoft has clearly sent a signal to companies that develop or use Linux in their products, and companies are getting that message. When asked directly during the interview Monday whether Typaldos believes that Linux has violated 235 Microsoft patents, he said, "I'm not going to say; I don't know the patents Microsoft is talking about...I don't know the specifics" of the alleged violations. At the time of the interview, David Kaefer, Microsoft's general manager for IP and licensing, was part of the call.

Within a half-hour of the end of the interview, Typaldos left a voice message for this reporter in which he said, "I wanted to make it very clear that your question about 'Do I think that Linux is infringing on Microsoft patents'? The answer is a categorical no. The answer is no."

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.


  • Microsoft Releases Preview of Azure Bastion

    With a new service preview, Microsoft is now letting organizations use a private Internet connection to access Azure virtual machines.

  • The 2019 Microsoft Product Roadmap

    From the next major update to Windows 10 to the next generation of HoloLens, here's what's on tap from Microsoft this year.

  • 2019 Microsoft Conference Calendar: For Partners, IT Pros and Developers

    Here's your guide to all the IT training sessions, partner meet-ups and annual Microsoft conferences you won't want to miss this year.

  • Microsoft Ends Development on Windows To Go

    The May 2019 update of Windows 10, also known as version 1903, will be the last Windows client OS to have support for Windows To Go.