Microsoft Pursues Cross-Licensing Deals

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-01-10 Print this article Print

As Microsoft pursues its goal of signing agreements with the approximately 40 global companies that hold the most technology patents, it is also entering into similar agreements with other smaller but strategic partners.

As Microsoft Corp. pursues its goal of signing cross-licensing agreements with the approximately 40 global companies that hold the most technology patents, it is also entering into similar agreements with other smaller but strategic partners.

It is just more than a year since the Redmond, Wash., software company announced its plans to more widely license its intellectual property, and its now engaged in several cross-licensing agreement discussions with software, hardware, digital media and telecommunications companies in the United States, Europe and Asia.

David Kaefer, Microsofts director of intellectual property licensing, told eWEEK that his goal was to sign cross-licensing agreements with the 30 to 40 global companies that hold most of the technology patents.

"Thats our goal for the next five years," Kaefer said, adding that such relationships will encourage more development freedom and technical standardization and improve relationships and alliances.

Microsofts latest cross-licensing agreements came last month with Autodesk Inc. and Citrix Systems Inc.

Autodesk and Microsoft entered into a cross-licensing pact that gives both companies access to a broad range of each others patent portfolios in a move that should allow each company to broaden its product offerings.

The deal promotes the exchange and implementation of patented technologies in many areas, including data management, collaboration, design, digital effects, digital rights management, project management, CAD and location-based services.

Click here to read more about Microsofts deal with Autodesk. Kaefer said the deal continues the momentum following similar agreements with SAP AG in May and Cisco Systems Inc. in October. "Autodesk and Microsoft have worked together for many years," he said. "Autodesk is one of Microsofts most successful ISV partners and is very involved in many of our beta programs. Until now, we have had a very rich technical collaboration relationship with them, but we have not had a patent cross-licensing agreement with them until now."

Autodesk specializes in CAD with its flagship AutoCAD product. "Certainly their graphics [technology] is of mutual interest to us. That was a rich area for us, and we will be licensing one anothers designs so that we can both move forward in that space," Kaefer said.

Next Page: A mutually beneficial relationship.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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