SOFTWARE PATENT BULLY Microsoft has signed a patent licensing agreement with Casio over the use of Linux.
Microsoft's patent programme has been ensnaring firms that ship devices with Linux for years and Casio is the latest to sign up, avoiding possible litigation by Microsoft. According to Microsoft, the deal signed with Casio is a "broad, multiyear patent cross-licensing agreement" that will cover devices that ship with Linux.
Casio has acknowledged that it is paying Microsoft for the privilege of using Linux, though Microsoft was quick to say that Casio uses Microsoft software for some of its products too. Neither company revealed how much money will change hands.
Horacio Gutierrez, corporate VP and deputy general counsel of the Intellectual Property Group at Microsoft said of the agreement, "We're pleased to reach an agreement and to see continued recognition of the value of our patent portfolio, particularly as it relates to operating systems."
Microsoft has signed many Linux licensing agreements, claiming it provides its customers with protection, presumably from itself. Since many companies use both Microsoft products and Linux it is likely that they are playing ball to avoid the aggravation and high legal costs rather than test Microsoft's claims in court.
Recently Microsoft has also been flogging Android licenses to a number of handset makers, including HTC. The firm has claimed repeatedly that Android is not free and paying licence fees protects users against potential legal disputes.
Microsoft's argument, although sounding like a legal protection racket, seems to be working however, as companies apparently prefer to pay up rather than risk going to court. µ
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