Microsoft agrees to license mobile patents

Instead of asserting its own patents against mobile companies, Microsoft has decided to acknowledge the validity of others, signing a new mobile patent deal.

Tom Krazit Former Staff writer, CNET News
Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.
Tom Krazit

Microsoft took a break today from suing the mobile industry to examine life on the other side of the coin as a patent licensee.

The company has agreed to license patents belonging to what many have derisively considered the ultimate patent troll, Acacia, according to The Wall Street Journal. Microsoft did not disclose how much it paid for the licenses, but they cover 74 patents held by Acacia and Access, which acquired Palmsource back in the day and agreed to let Acacia pursue licensing deals on its behalf.

Acacia has a long history of assembling patents and suing whomever it believes has run afoul of those patents. They've taken on video-streaming companies, Wi-Fi registration pages, and new licensee Microsoft over Windows boot technology.

The patents at issue in this licensing deal are "related to smartphones," according to the Journal report, and are likely the same ones involved in lawsuits that Acacia has pending in Texas against Apple, RIM, and Motorola, among others.

Microsoft has found itself on the aggressor side of the patent lawsuit game of late, most recently suing Motorola for patent infringement. It has also negotiated a patent licensing deal with HTC and warned anyone who will listen that Google's Android mobile software isn't as free as it appears, implying that more Android-using handset makers could be in its sights.