It feels like the legal battle between Apple and Samsung has been going on forever. The two companies have been trading blows in court for over a year now, with both claiming the other is utilizing technologies that infringe upon patents that don't belong to them. Apple says Samsung copied the iPad and iPhone when designing its Galaxy line of smartphone and tablets, while Samsung says Apple is infringing on its wireless patents. Apple is this week making its case in front of a U.S. judge, and the Cupertino-based company just recently revealed it had licensed product and design patents to a major competitor. In turn, this company promised not to copy Apple's designs.
The Wall Street Journal cites Apple's patent head Boris Teksler as saying Apple tried to strike up a licensing deal with Samsung before going the lawsuit route. Teksler says Apple offered licenses to its patents in several meetings with Samsung, but that the design and technology patents at issue in the trial taking place in California were not among them. However, one company does have licensing rights when these patents are concerned, and that company is Microsoft.
WSJ reports that Teksler on Monday disclosed that Microsoft was allowed license to these design and technology products but that the agreement with Redmond contains certain provisions. Namely, Microsoft had to promise it wouldn't copy Apple's own designs.
"There's a clear acknowledgement that there is no cloning as part of this provision," he's quoted as saying.
Details on the deal between Apple and Microsoft are pretty scarce, so it's not yet known what Microsoft is and isn't allowed to do with its devices, nor do we know if these patents relate to hardware or software. We do know that Samsung wasn't given a similar deal. The Verge reports that Microsoft and Apple's cross-licensing deal from 1997 contained similar provisions regarding copying products, and it's thought the new agreement might be similar to the one made in the 90's.
The Apple/Samsung suit continues in San Jose this week. Word on the street says it might wrap up as early as next week.