Microsoft grants Linux patent amnesty to LG Electronics

The patent deal is the fifth one Microsoft has signed in the last 7 months

Microsoft on Wednesday announced a cross-licensing deal with Korean consumer electronics maker LG Electronics. It is the fifth such deal in recent months that involves Redmond's controversial granting of Linux patent 'protection' -- in this case, to LG-made cell phones and other devices.

Microsoft will pay LG an undisclosed amount of money for patents related to operating systems and computer systems, it said in a press release, while LG will make ongoing payments to Microsoft "for the value of Microsoft patents as they relate to Linux-based embedded devices that LGE produces."

"This agreement is another example of how Microsoft is continuing to build bridges with others in the industry through intellectual property licensing," said Horacio Gutierrez, vice president, Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft, in the statement.

"We believe in the importance of respecting the IP rights of others and that patent collaboration and protection is a best business practice the whole industry should be engaged in," said Jeong Hwan Lee, executive vice president of the Intellectual Property Center at LGE, in the same statement.

The deal is the fifth one Microsoft has signed in the last 7 months. Critics say such deals provide a de facto advance for Redmond's unproven claims to Linux-related intellectual property.

The first deal, an alliance signed last November between Microsoft and longtime rival Novell Inc., saw the latter firm agreeing to pay Microsoft $40 million in return for immunity for Novell's customers against any Linux-related patent violations.

Microsoft signed a similar deal in mid-April with another Korean consumer electronics maker, Samsung Electronics.

On Monday, Microsoft agreed to offer the same amnesty to Linux vendor Xandros. That deal differed slightly, in that Xandros did not license use of any of its patents to Microsoft.

Microsoft has also signed a cross-licensing deal involving Linux patent protection with Fuji-Xerox.

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Eric Lai

Computerworld
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