This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication - Western Union memo, 1876
SOFTWARE MONOPOLIST Microsoft has announced that it wants to work with industry and its competitors in a more friendly way and will look to license its patents to them, as opposed to chase them through the courts.
This will be a shift for the firm, and it is taking a route not favoured by its competitors. Usually companies look to chase down and wring cash out of any rivals that might have borrowed their technology, but Microsoft claims it has seen the light and will open its arms to them.
"Like other leading high-tech firms, Microsoft regularly contributes to the development of industry standards. Industry standards are vitally important to the development of the Internet and to interoperability among mobile devices and other computers," said the firm sanctioned for anti-competitive practices on two continents in a statement posted to its web site yesterday.
"The international standards system works well because firms that contribute to standards promise to make their essential patents available to others on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms. Consumers and the entire industry will suffer if, in disregard of this promise, firms seek to block others from shipping products on the basis of such standard essential patents."
Microsoft's new approach is to be more straightforward and do things like stick to promises that it has made. It said that it will adhere to the wishes of standards organisations and make its standard patents "available on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms".
This should mean, and does mean according to Microsoft, that the firm will not pursue injunctions or exclusion orders against rivals based on those "essential patents". Microsoft said that it will make these essential patents available without requiring that anyone license them back to it.
The patents will have some future protection too, as the firm said it will not transfer them to any other organisation unless it shared the same open beliefs.
The announcement conveniently follows one from Google that took a slightly different approach. Yesterday, in letters sent to standards organisations the search firm said that it will license fairly the patents that it acquires by buying Motorola.
Google said that it will use its patents defensively rather than use them to strike out against its rivals. µ
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