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Microsoft, Google in rare technology pact

As part of the search giant's new Google Sync product for mobile phones, Google took a license to some Microsoft intellectual property.

Microsoft has licensed its technical know-how to nearly every company, including rivals such as Apple and Nokia.

Now Redmond can add Google to the list. To help power the Google Sync product that was announced on Monday, the search giant has licensed Microsoft's ActiveSync protocol for sharing information between a server and mobile phone.

Google Sync allows users to synchronize their contacts, and in some cases calendar information, with Google's Web-based services. It works with a range of phones including Windows Mobile phones, Apple's iPhone, RIM's BlackBerry, and phones from Nokia and Sony Ericsson.

Generally, companies have licensed the ActiveSync protocol to link data between a cell phone and a Microsoft Exchange server. In this case, though, Google is using ActiveSync to link Google data off of their servers to mobile phones.

Although Google and Microsoft have cooperated in some areas in the past, the deal on Monday is the first announced example of one of those companies licensing the other's intellectual property, according to Microsoft.

Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's top intellectual property lawyer touted the move.

"Google's licensing of these Microsoft patents relating to the Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync protocol is a clear (acknowledgment) of the innovation taking place at Microsoft," Gutierrez said in a statement. "This agreement is also a great example of Microsoft's openness to generally license our patents under fair and reasonable terms so long as licensees respect Microsoft intellectual property."

Gutierrez noted that the company has struck more than 500 licensing deals since it began its intellectual property-sharing push in 2003.

So, by my count, that leaves Oracle and Red Hat among big name technology companies that don't have some sort of pact with Microsoft. Anyone else have another prominent name I should add to that list?

Update, 2:05 p.m. PT: I thought it was worth checking to see if the deal between Google and Microsoft was broad enough to cover Exchange synchronizing to an Android device. "Android is not covered by this agreement," a Microsoft representative told CNET News.