Microsoft signs patent agreement with Casio

As patents become ever more of an issue, MS continues to flex its IP muscles
Kerry Butters

September 21, 2011
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Microsoft has signed an agreement with Casio that allows customers of the electronics company “patent coverage for their use of Linux in certain Casio devices”.

MS says that details of the “broad, multi-year patent cross-licensing agreement” are confidential but it seems that both companies have agreed that MS is “being compensated by Casio.”

“We’re pleased to reach an agreement and to see continued recognition of the value of our patent portfolio, particularly as it relates to operating systems,” said Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property Group at Microsoft.

Casio already uses a range of MS products in many of its devices such as handheld scanners and epos systems.

The software giant launched its intellectual property licensing scheme back in 2003 and has signed over 700 agreements since then.

Whilst they say that this ensures a “healthy and vibrant IT ecosystem”, one report has alleged that it sounds more like “a legal protection racket” after MS sold licenses for Android in June.

MS claimed that the software isn’t really free and companies who use it should protect themselves with licenses to avoid possible legal action in the future.

MS says that the use of Linux, which is open source (free) also violates its patents, some 42 of them.

Alongside this, the company claims that Linux GUIs violate another 65 and Open Office 45, along with a variety of other open source programs totalling 235 infringements.

MS says that “the program was developed to open access to Microsoft’s significant R&D investments and its growing, broad patent and IP portfolio.”

Of course, this would suggest that it’s nothing to do with making money from an otherwise stagnant asset.

MS first made the claims back in 2007 and at the time a lead developer for Linux said: “It’s certainly a lot more likely that Microsoft violates patents than Linux does.”

Earlier this month Acer signed an agreement for the use of Android on it’s tablet devices.

“We are pleased that Acer is taking advantage of our industry-wide licensing program established to help companies address Android’s IP issues,” said Gutierrez at the time.


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