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June 6, 2007

Microsoft, LG in another cross-license deal

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 7:01 PM

Microsoft will share intellectual property with Seoul-based consumer electronics maker LG Electronics in a patent cross-license deal the companies announced Wednesday evening. Microsoft describes it as part of an ongoing strategy "to develop a best-practices model for protecting intellectual property and respecting the IP rights of others, as well as building bridges with an array of industry leaders, including consumer electronics, telecommunications and computer hardware providers."

The LG deal is the latest in a string of cross-license deals Microsoft has inked in the last year. The biggest one came in November with open-source software company Novell.

According to Microsoft's announcement, LG will be able to use Microsoft patented technology in consumer electronics that use open-source Linux software. LG will make ongoing payments to Microsoft for this technology.

This represents another shot across the bow of the open-source community. Since announcing the Novell deal, Microsoft has been increasingly aggressive in its assertions that open source software violates 235 of its patents. The company has refused to disclose which patents are violated by open source.

Also in the LG deal, Microsoft is getting access to LG patents, including some owned by a third party, MicroConnect Group.

Financial terms were not detailed, but Microsoft did disclose a "balancing payment" will be made to LG and MicroConnect for patents related to the exceedingly vague areas of operating and computer systems. Some of the patents are related to "computer architecture utilized in game consoles and other products," according to an LG executive quoted in Microsoft's announcement.

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