Microsoft, JVC agree to cross-license patents

Exact details of the patents in the agreement were not disclosed, although the two companies say it covers a "broad range" of products either company offers.

Financial terms of the deal were also not disclosed, although the companies say that the agreement results in a net financial benefit for Microsoft. The two companies had already been collaborating on certain technologies in the past.

"When technological industry leaders collaborate through intellectual property licensing, we foster greater innovation that will benefit the customer, the consumer and the overall IT ecosystem," Microsoft intellectual property chief Horacio Gutierrez said in a statement.

Microsoft also took the opportunity in the announcement of the JVC agreement to boast that its patent portfolio was given the "top quality rating" by two independent patent quality rating systems.

The company launched the effort to license its patents in December 2003. Since then, it has entered into about 200 separate agreements. Other companies with similar agreements include: Fuji, LG, Nortel, Novell, and Samsung, among others.

One possible detail that is not being publicized is that the agreement could cover the use of Linux. Microsoft continues to assert that the operating system infringes on at least 42 of its patents, and possibly as many as 228.

However, Microsoft has yet to list which patents Linux violates, and backers of the alternative operating system deny there is any kind of patent infringement at all.

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