Microsoft, Amazon in Cross-Patent Agreement

Microsoft has announced a patent cross-license agreement with Amazon.com, which gives each company access to a large portion of the other's patent portfolio.

Microsoft has announced a patent cross-license agreement with Amazon.com, which gives each company access to a large portion of the other's patent portfolio.

The patent agreement between Microsoft and Amazon covers a broad range of products and technology, including Amazon's popular Kindle e-reading device, 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. In addition, many observers dwelled on the Linux angle of the agreement. However, Amazon did not respond to a request for comment regarding the agreement.

"We are pleased to have entered into this patent license agreement with Amazon.com," Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel for IP (intellectual property) and licensing at Microsoft, said in a statement. "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."

The licensing agreement is another example of the important role IP plays in ensuring a healthy and vibrant IT ecosystem, Microsoft officials said in a Feb. 22 press release.

Indeed, Microsoft said that since the company launched its IP licensing program in December 2003, the company has entered into more than 600 licensing 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, Hewlett-Packard, LG Electronics, Nikon, Novell, Hoya Corp.'s Pentax Imaging Systems Division, Pioneer, Samsung Electronics and Fuji Xerox.

More information about Microsoft's licensing programs is available here.