Microsoft Pursues Cross-Licensing Deals

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.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick 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.