Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Microsoft and Amazon sign a patent cross-license agreement

Microsoft announced it's signed a patent cross-license agreement with Amazon, which gives each company access to the other's patent portfolio.  This covers the Kindle, "which employs both open source and Amazon's proprietary software components ... and Amazon's use of Linux-based servers."

  Specific terms of the agreement are confidential, but Amazon will, in addition, pay Microsoft an undisclosed amount and gets access to Microsoft's patent portfolio, described by its deputy general counsel for Intellectual Property ("IP") and Licensing, Horacio Gutierrez, as "the largest and strongest in the software industry."

I guess so.  Microsoft's press release reports that it has entered into similar agreements with such companies as Apple Inc., HP, LG Electronics, Nikon Corp., Novell Inc., HOYA CORPORATION PENTAX Imaging Systems Division, Pioneer Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Fuji Xerox Co. Ltd. says, "Some suggest Amazon agreed to the terms to avoid a patent-infringement suit from Microsoft" and points out that Microsoft sued Tom Tom (GPS devices) over 8 patents, 3 of them related to Tom Tom's implementation of the Linux kernal, which Microsoft claims violates some of its patents. says that the agreement
'... allows Microsoft to get its hands on the Kindle tech, so expect it to be heavily integrated into the Windows environment over the coming months.
  For its part Amazon gets to dive into Microsoft's monstrous array of IP as it looks to expand its range of services, software and hardware ...
  All of which makes core Kindle integration into Windows Phone Series 7 about as nailed on as the chance of rain in London this decade. '
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  1. Shall we get Kindle for Windows Mobile soon? So was licensing a reason why we did not get it up to now?

  2. Ezh,
    Certainly seems more likely now. Have no idea what the reason(s might have been but this can only help.

  3. This is not about Kindle for Windows Mobile. This is about a convicted monopolist using unethical coercion tactics to make money. Essentially, Microsoft is punishing Amazon for using Linux in the Kindle, by forcing Amazon to pay the Windows tax anyway. Microsoft excuses this by claiming that Linux violates their patents, but they've never been able to prove this.

  4. Hi, Mark,
    Yes, it did occur to me that Microsoft has quite a racket there. One giant company after another giving into the extortion-style routines. I guess that not holding up development out of worry a suit might not go in your favor and not spending all the money needed to fight it become attractive.

    It was interesting to see the Fed Court of Appeals upheld the lower court the other day on the decision on i4i’s custom XML editing feature in WORD though I think MS is getting off relatively easy with $290 million and being able to just apply a patch to Word, to remove the infringing portion, shipped after the decision. And they'll take it up as far as they can I guess.

  5. Future commercials:

    Kindle: "Hi, I'm a Kindle."
    iPad: "And I'm an iPad."


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