IBM Inks Patent Cross-License Deal With Western Digital

Western Digital has acquired more than 100 IBM patents as part of a cross-license agreement with Big Blue.

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IBM today announced that storage systems and solutions provider Western Digital has acquired more than 100 IBM patents and that the two companies also have entered into a patent cross-license agreement.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The patent agreement with Western Digital is consistent with IBM's commitment to licensing access to its patents and intellectual property to other companies in order to encourage and enable innovation across many areas, such as semiconductors, software, systems and more.

"This agreement with Western Digital illustrates the value of patented IBM inventions and demonstrates our leadership in licensing access to our broad patent portfolio. We look forward to a productive relationship with Western Digital," William LaFontaine, general manager of intellectual property for IBM, said in a statement.

Patents acquired by Western Digital are in distributed storage, object storage and emerging non-volatile memory.Western Digital expects the intellectual property to further strengthen its technology position and drive value creation for the company and its customers. The patents will augment Western Digital's existing portfolio of more than 10,000 patents and patent applications.

"This agreement reflects our continued focus on innovation and sets the stage for even more rapid advancement and commercialization of new data storage solutions," Mike Cordano, president and chief operating officer of Western Digital, said in a statement. "We are building on Western Digital and IBM's long-standing relationship and look forward to future collaborations and business opportunities."

IBM, which has led the annual list of U.S. patent recipients for 23 consecutive years, received 7,355 patents in 2015. IBM's 2015 patent results represent a diverse range of inventions, including a strong and growing focus on cognitive solutions and the cloud platform as the company positions itself to compete in a new era of computing.

"During IBM's 23 years atop the patent list, the company's inventors have received more than 88,000 U.S. patents," Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement. "IBM's investments in R&D continue to shape the future of computing through cognitive computing and the cloud platform that will help our clients drive transformation across multiple industries. IBM's patent leadership demonstrates our unparalleled commitment to the fundamental R&D necessary to drive progress in business and society."

IBM inventors generated more than 2,000 patents in areas related to cognitive computing and the company's cloud platform. In the area of cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, IBM inventors developed new technologies that can help machines learn, reason and efficiently process diverse data types while interacting with people in natural and familiar ways. For example, IBM received a patent for a system that helps machines understand emotion.

Meanwhile, IBM prides itself in striking cross-license deals with other technology companies around Big Blue's rich patent portfolio. In 2014, IBM announced that Twitter acquired 900 IBM patents and in 2011 the company said Google acquired more than 2,000 IBM patents in cross-licensing deals.

Between 2009 and 2013, IBM generated more than $5 billion in intellectual property income—a fundamental part of the company's strategy and one of the financial benefits of its consistent investment in R&D.

For decades, IBM inventors have patented fundamental breakthroughs that defined the computer industry, such as DRAMs, computer hard drives, the PC, relational databases, the technology behind laser eye surgery, the SABRE airline reservation system and more.