Microsoft Licenses Smartphone Patents, Avoids Litigation

Lora Bentley
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Smartphones That Work for Business

With the flack over Apple's claims that much of the sexiest smartphone tech falls under its patents, our Carl Weinschenk looks at the best mobile tech on the market today.

What is a Friday without an announcement about patent litigation in the smartphone market? A pleasant surprise, in my book. But that doesn't mean the major players aren't busy striking deals and reaching settlements. For instance, The Wall Street Journal reports Microsoft has licensed 74 smartphone-related patents from Acacia Research and Access Co., which acquired PalmSource five years ago.


It seems Microsoft wants to avoid the patent litigation pile-on that is plaguing its competitors. Redmond's unspoken plea, according to IntoMobile, is simply, "Please stop suing us." WSJ reporter Nick Wingfield explains it this way: Some of the same patents are involved in a pending lawsuit Acacia filed in March in federal court in Tyler, Texas, against Apple, Blackberry-maker Research In Motion., Samsung Electronics, Motorola and other smartphone makers.


Microsoft was not named in the suit. David Kaefer, the company's general manager of intellectual property, indicated that licensing the patents, which Acacia representatives call "foundational" for the smartphone, allows Microsoft to focus on making "great software" and giving its partners "intellectual property peace of mind."


Nice try at putting an "others-focused" spin on it, but Microsoft is simply protecting itself. Sure, the company's partners have some reason to care that they have the right to use the technology with which they're working, but in the end, the buck stops with Microsoft.

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