Software giant Microsoft and the world’s largest online retailer Amazon.com have signed a patent cross-licence agreement that will give each company access to the other’s patent portfolios, including Kindle e-readers and software components.
The agreement covers a broad range of products and technology, including coverage for Amazon’s popular e-reading device, Kindle, which employs both open source and Amazon’s proprietary software components, and Amazon’s use of Linux-based servers.
Although specific terms of the agreement are confidential, Microsoft indicated that Amazon.com will pay Microsoft an undisclosed amount of money under the agreement.
“We are pleased to have entered into this patent licence agreement with Amazon.com,” said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice-president and deputy general counsel for Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft.
“Microsoft’s patent portfolio is the largest and strongest in the software industry, and this agreement demonstrates our mutual respect for intellectual property as well as our ability to reach pragmatic solutions to IP issues regardless of whether proprietary or open-source software is involved.”
Microsoft says the licencing agreement is another example of the important role IP plays in ensuring a healthy and vibrant IT ecosystem.
Since Microsoft launched its IP licencing program in December 2003, the company has entered into more than 600 licencing agreements and continues to develop programs that make it possible for customers, partners and competitors to access its IP portfolio.
The program was developed to open access to Microsoft’s significant R&D investments and its growing, broad patent and IP portfolio.
In recent years, Microsoft has entered into similar agreements with other leading companies, including Apple Inc, HP, LG Electronics, Nikon Corp, Novell Inc, Hoya Corporation Pentax Imaging Systems Division, Pioneer Corp, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Fuji Xerox Co Ltd.
By John Kennedy
Photo: Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader