The Register reports today that Autodesk and Microsoft have signed a cross-licensing agreement that will give each company broader access to the other's patent portfolio. Terms of the deal, which is reported to have taken six months to hammer out, were kept under wraps. The deal expands the scope of their co-operation into new areas including data management, digital effects, digital rights management, computer-aided design and location-based services. Brad Smith, general counsel for Microsoft, said the deal was good for customers of both companies because it expanded each company's reach on what he called "commercially reasonable terms". He added:

"Intellectual property licensing is a cornerstone of today's software industry and is essential for the development of comprehensive technology solutions".

Brad Smith: cross-licensing "good for customers of both companies"

This agreement is part of a larger effort from Microsoft to extend its intellectual property portfolio. The company has several other cross-licensing deals already signed, including agreements with Cisco, SAP and Siemens. According to CNet, it is currently in talks with more than ten other companies, and wants to sign a many as 30 more deals over the next five years.

The IPKat is cagey about cross-licensing agreements in the high-tech sector, after watching how the major players in the telecoms field have indulged in a degree of cross-licensing that makes it effectively impossible for new players to enter the market if they don't have their own portfolio of patents to throw into the pool. Merpel asks:

"don't the authorities that regulate competition have something to say on deals like this?"
More cross-licensing deals here, here, here and here
Patent pools here and here
CROSS-LICENSING: A GAME FOR TWO? CROSS-LICENSING: A GAME FOR TWO? Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, December 16, 2004 Rating: 5


  1. I fail to understand your position.

    If someone wants to enter some market, it might be "effectively impossible" to do so because everything one can possibly do in that market is covered by 1001 patents.

    However, a contract between third parties about cross-licensing has no effect whatsoever on the position of the new player. The patents stop or don't stop him regardless of if they stop some competitor who has a cross-license deal.

    Cross-licenses are not the reason for patent thickets. They only make it possible to live with the consequences, at least for the big players.

  2. I think, that in the end it's still the
    common morale that determines, how business
    is done. As the common morale is very low
    these days, we get exactly the kind of
    environment, where everyone slams the rest as
    much as the law let's them to and the ones
    that assemble the law, are either directly or
    indirectly corrupt.

    Well, You know the song from Eurythmics:
    "... Sweet dreams are made of this,
    who ever dares to disagree,
    some of them want to abuse you,
    some of them want to be abused by you..."

  3. quote:

    "Cross-licenses are not the reason for patent thickets. They only make it possible to live with the consequences, at least for the big players."

    But that is exactly the whole trick; patents is about blocking others, making it impossible for starters while making it all possible for "yourself" and "friends" ("yourself"as in being a big company)
    In Dutch there is a ryme: "ikke, ikke, ikke en de rest kan stikke"
    It says "me, me, me and the rest may choke"

  4. Every once in a while I stumble upon very interesting blogs like yours.

    My partner and I have a content ranking site web site which is all about content ranking site web.

  5. Hi :)

    You have a great blog! Keep up the great work, and I'll be sure to visit regularly.

    I have a business degree in online related site, check it out if you get some time!

    Look forward to reading more of your insightful post!

  6. I read you blog and thought it was great! But you can also find Free Stuff at HomeSellerMax


All comments must be moderated by a member of the IPKat team before they appear on the blog. Comments will not be allowed if the contravene the IPKat policy that readers' comments should not be obscene or defamatory; they should not consist of ad hominem attacks on members of the blog team or other comment-posters and they should make a constructive contribution to the discussion of the post on which they purport to comment.

It is also the IPKat policy that comments should not be made completely anonymously, and users should use a consistent name or pseudonym (which should not itself be defamatory or obscene, or that of another real person), either in the "identity" field, or at the beginning of the comment. Current practice is to, however, allow a limited number of comments that contravene this policy, provided that the comment has a high degree of relevance and the comment chain does not become too difficult to follow.

Learn more here:

Powered by Blogger.