Wednesday 19 October 2011

A new IP dawn for Microsoft?

Whereas being most definitely one of USA's patent champions with 3,094 patents awarded in 2010 (in 3rd position behind IBM and Samsung), Microsoft is not making the IP headlines as much as its US counterparts such as Google - in the midst of acquiring Motorola Mobility which is now being sued by Intellectual Ventures, or Apple - embarked in an all-out and global patent war against all its competitors on the smarphone market with Samsung as primary target. However two interesting item of news are revealing that this situation might be about to change.

On September 29th Microsoft announced in a press statement a landmark agreement with Samsung 'to cross-license the patent portfolios of both companies, providing broad coverage for each company’s products'. Given the current difficulties encountered by South-Korea's top smartphone seller to launch its products quickly (if at all) on various markets all around the world notably in Germany, the Netherlands and in Australia, such an agreement will certainly provide Samsung with the necessary patent ammunition against its newfound archenemy Apple, while bringing a large amount of money in the bank accounts of the Redmond-based corporation. Well-informed Joff Wild of IAM Magazine speaks of a royalty-based deal ranging from 10$ to 15$ per android device sold. Moreover the announcement also reports the cooperation of Samsung in the development and marketing of Windows Phone, whose latest OS version called Mango received very encouraging critics.

More interesting is another piece of news published on IAM Magazine's blog which reveals that Microsoft hired Florian Mueller to conduct a research on standard-essential/FRAND-related patents. The unorthodox choice of well-known anti-software patents activist Florian Mueller to perform such a research certainly demonstrates Microsoft's keen awareness that negotiating in fair and reasonable terms with all its competitors will help the company exploiting its heavy patent porfolio at its full potential, instead of using it primarily as defensive leverage.

Microsoft active patent licensing strategy could be another sign showing that 'IP really starts taking centre stage in corporate thinking' as many IP licensing specialists start believing after the groundbreaking Nortel patent auction...

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