Apple has licensed out iPhone related patents to Microsoft, Apple patent licensing head Boris Teksler reveals

Mon, Aug 13, 2012

Legal, News

This weekend we reported on how Apple, before it initiated its suit against Samsung, offered a licensing deal to Samsung that would have seen the Korean-based electronics giant fork over $30 per smartphone sold and $40 per tablet sold. Interestingly, the licensing terms proffered by Apple also included a number of “bonuses” whereby Samsung could lower its royalty rate, for example, by choosing to cross license its own patents to Apple.

Obviously, Samsung didn’t agree and litigation ensued a few months later.

Today, as the Apple-Samsung dispute rages on, Apple’s patent licensing director Boris Teksler disclosed an interesting nugget of information. As it turns out, the good folks over at Microsoft entered into a licensing agreement with Apple for a number of their iPhone related patents.

Reuters reports:

Apple’s decision to license its design patents to Microsoft was consistent with its corporate strategy, Teksler said, because the agreement prohibited Microsoft from manufacturing copies.

“There was no right with respect to these design patents to build clones of any type,” Teksler said

Teksler testified that Apple offered a clutch of patents for licensing but, crucially, viewed patents related to what he called the “unique user experience” as a highly protected category.

Those included design patents at issue in the lawsuit, covering the look and feel of the iPhone and iPad. Teksler told jurors last week he could count on “on one hand” the instances Apple has licensed those patents.

“There was no right with respect to these design patents to build clones of any type,” Teksler said.

What we don’t know, however, is just how much Microsoft is paying Apple for these licensing rights. We’d venture to say, though, that it’s a tad lower than the $30/$40 offer initially made to Samsung.


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