Feeds

Microsoft pays licence fees for 74 smartphone patents

When will the madness end?

SANS - Survey on application security programs

Microsoft licensed 74 patents yesterday with Acacia Research Corp for an undisclosed sum.

The Wall Street Journal reported the move, and Acacia also put a terse statement out confirming the licence agreement.

It said the software giant paid licence fees for “a portfolio of patents related to smartphones owned by ACCESS Co, Ltd”.

Acess trades publicly on the Tokyo stock exchange, has 2,000 employees, and to date has shipped one billion mobile phone browsers. According to a anonymous source at Access, the company "retains many of the employees who have filed the patents licensed to MS."

Acacia said the patents cover inventions created by Access, Palm, Palmsource, Bell Communications Research, and Geoworks.

The outfit has a reputation for scooping up firms with patents and then going after other companies with claims of IP infringement.

So perhaps, somewhat uncharacteristically, Microsoft was simply heading off any such headache by signing a licence deal with Acacia.

Interestingly Acacia, as previously noted by Groklaw, does have a history of hiring Microsoft veterans to work at its offices. It appointed ex-Microsoft Intellectual Property general manager Brad Brunell in 2007.

In July of that year the firm also took on Jonathan Taub, who Acacia promoted to the job of senior vice president just this month.

As Acacia points out in his corporate bio: “Prior to joining Acacia, he was Director of Strategic Alliances for Microsoft's Mobile and Embedded Devices division and Business Development Manager for Microsoft's Security Business Unit.”

So it’s hardly surprising to see the two companies play nice over licensing. It also means Microsoft, for once, won’t be under the patent sueball spotlight.

According to the WSJ, the patents Redmond coughed up for yesterday are listed in a lawsuit that Acacia recently filed against Apple, RIM, Samsung Electronics, Motorola and other smartphone vendors.

IPWatchdog.com, as pointed out by Mary Jo Foley, considers Acacia to be “the mother of all patent trolls”. It noted a recent Business Week story that said the firm had filed 337 patent-related lawsuits in that past 18 years.

On the Microsoft front, this isn’t the first time it has paid Acacia licence fees for its patents.

But more often than not, Microsoft battles patent lawsuits via the US courts. Late last month MS assembled an unlikely band of tech brothers against patent trolls, in a move to upend a patent infringement verdict that ordered the software giant to pay $290m in damages to i4i.

Just a day later, Microsoft sued Motorola for patent infringement. ®

Correction

This article wrongly stated that Access Co Ltd was a subsidiary of Acacia. The story has now been amended.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
OpenBSD founder wants to bin buggy OpenSSL library, launches fork
One Heartbleed vuln was too many for Theo de Raadt
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Ubuntu 14.04 LTS: Great changes, but sssh don't mention the...
Why HELLO Amazon! You weren't here last time
Got Windows 8.1 Update yet? Get ready for YET ANOTHER ONE – rumor
Leaker claims big release due this fall as Microsoft herds us into the CLOUD
Patch iOS, OS X now: PDFs, JPEGs, URLs, web pages can pwn your kit
Plus: iThings and desktops at risk of NEW SSL attack flaw
Next Windows obsolescence panic is 450 days from … NOW!
The clock is ticking louder for Windows Server 2003 R2 users
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
Apple inaugurates free OS X beta program for world+dog
Prerelease software now open to anyone, not just developers – as long as you keep quiet
prev story

Whitepapers

Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.