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June 14, 2007

Microsoft inks another Linux deal with former rival

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 8:37 AM

The intellectual property (IP) licensing team at Microsoft is keeping busy. The company rolled out yet another IP deal, this one squarely in the mold of the open-source patent indemnification pacts it signed in the last year with Novell and Xandros.

Under the deal, Linspire, a provider of open-source desktop software, will offer customers protection from intellectual property claims that may arise if Linux and other open-source software is found to violate Microsoft patents.

Microsoft has been upping the pressure on the open-source community by suggesting that as many as 235 of its patents could be violated by the free software.

Microsoft said the deal is another step toward improved interoperability between Windows and open-source software. In a news release, Microsoft stated that the companies will "work to advance office document compatibility, enhance instant messaging interoperability and reinforce existing collaboration on digital media." Other areas of collaboration include TrueType Fonts and Web search: Linspire will set Windows Live Search as the default search engine on its Web browser.

Microsoft's history with Linspire includes a trademark dispute. Microsoft sued the company in late 2001, alleging that the name it used for its desktop Linux, Lindows, infringed on the Microsoft Windows trademark. The case was settled in 2004 with Microsoft paying $20 million to the company, which agreed to change its name to Linspire.

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