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Apple Reportedly Licences Design Patents to Microsoft

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.

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  • freggo
    "Apple licenses Design Patents to Microsoft"

    Why would I want to license a design which, by the terms of the license, I can not use?
    That makes no sense, now does it.
    :heink:
    Reply
  • ericburnby
    Funny. Samsung tries to say they aren't valid patents and Microsoft licenses them.

    Funnier are the 3 patents Samsung is suing for. Are you ready for these heavyweights?

    1. A method for determining if e-mail is plain text or contains a photo and taking an action based on that.
    2. A method to allow you to send a photo from an album/viewer, and after you send it you can return the the same place you left off.
    3. A method to play music in the background on a mobile device.

    Absolutely brilliant, Samsung. You know how to "bring the big guns" to Aplpe's knife fight. /S
    Reply
  • makaveli316
    I think the fall of Apple would be great not only for the advancement in technology, but for us consumers also. I pray for that day to come.
    Apple is like the religion in the middle ages, controlling the sheep and erasing the intelligent.
    Reply
  • YOU CANNOT PATENT A SQUARE WITH ROUND EDGES!

    MS IS JUST HELPING APPLE OUT AGAINST FOREIGNERS!

    AMERICAN PROTECTIONISM AT ITS LOWEST!

    APPLE WILL FAIL AND THEN THE ISHEEP WILL WITHER.
    Reply
  • back_by_demand
    What are the chances that the amount MS had paid for the licensing is exactly the same amount or less than:-

    A) Estimated lawyers fees for a similar courtroom bitch-fight

    paid for by:-

    B) Fees garnered from Android licenses

    MS never loses any of it's own money, avoids all of the bad press and manages to come up smelling of roses, brilliant
    Reply
  • shafe88
    APPLELOSESINTHEENDYOU CANNOT PATENT A SQUARE WITH ROUND EDGES! I wounder if you can patent the middle finger, cause I would like to patent it and sue Apple every time they use it.
    Reply
  • penguintech
    i think this is just sad..... sad...... sad..... apple is big enough as it is, and everyone is already drinking their kool-aid, I think they should stop the nonsense and just sell their stuff....
    Reply
  • hotroderx
    ericburnbyFunny. Samsung tries to say they aren't valid patents and Microsoft licenses them.Funnier are the 3 patents Samsung is suing for. Are you ready for these heavyweights?1. A method for determining if e-mail is plain text or contains a photo and taking an action based on that.2. A method to allow you to send a photo from an album/viewer, and after you send it you can return the the same place you left off.3. A method to play music in the background on a mobile device.Absolutely brilliant, Samsung. You know how to "bring the big guns" to Aplpe's knife fight. /S
    Your so right I mean seriously how ridiculous is Samsung really suing over such things. Its not like there suing over something substantial like a product being a rectangle. Which is pretty much the entire bases of Apples Lawsuit. We all know a rectangle can be designed in so many different ways. I mean Samsung should be ashamed of them self's really.

    /end sarcasm

    I wonder how long before Apple starts suing anything with the letter D saying it infringes on there design rights. D does kinda look like a rectangle if you don't look two closely.
    Reply
  • AndrewMD
    makaveli316I think the fall of Apple would be great not only for the advancement in technology, but for us consumers also. I pray for that day to come.Apple is like the religion in the middle ages, controlling the sheep and erasing the intelligent.

    Really... lets see, if Apple did not bring out the original iPhone we would have an Android that looks so much like a Blackberry right now. We would be all subjected to the tracking ball that RIM integrated into their units and we would all have low resolution screens.

    Yeah, this is called the butterfly effect. You take that important piece out of history you gamble that we would be in the same place today.. In fact if not for Apple, we would probably still be on Windows Mobile 10 built on CE..

    I'm just saying, you can hate a company all you want, but to want them completely destroyed is just narrow minded thinking.
    Reply
  • eddieroolz
    Interesting. Not sure what the aim of licensing Apple's design is, but it certainly helps to convince Apple that any resulting products from Microsoft that is sleek and "cool" is not an unabashed copy of Apple devices, like what Samsung did.

    In other words, I take it as Apple isn't the monster that some publications are making them out to be.
    Reply