How Microsoft Avoided Apple's Legal Wrath (and Why Samsung Didn't)

Paul Lilly

Through what's been a highly publicized legal battle between Apple and Samsung over design patents, it recently came to light that all this courtroom drama could have been avoided if Samsung agreed to license technologies from its rival and pay a royalty of $30 per phone and $40 per tablet. Samsung, which Apple considered a "strategic partner," scoffed at the idea, and so here we are watching this whole mess play out, only to inevitably repeat itself in appeal when it's all said and done. So, why hasn't Apple gone after Microsoft?

Well, based on testimony from Apple's patent licensing director, Boris Teksler, Microsoft at one point inked a cross-license agreement with Apple that keeps the two sides out of court, so long as they don't clone each other's products. Even if Samsung would have signed a similar agreement, it probably would have ended up in court anyway.

"All these patents are in Apple's unique user experience, and not ones we would license," Teksler testified, according to CNet . Teksler went on to say that Apple added "special prohibitions" that prevent either side from cloning the other.

"There's peace to each other's products; there's a clear acknowledgement that there's no cloning," Teksler said.

Other details of the specific agreement between Microsoft and Apple were not disclosed, though Teksler insists Microsoft didn't receive any special treatment.

"We were trying very hard to come up with an amicable resolution with Samsung," Teksler added. "We wanted to get properly compensated for that which was infringed, and with respect to our unique user experience. That's exactly what we were trying to do with this presentation."

Samsung doesn't deny that Apple approached the company about licensing certain patents, but said the topic of design patents never came up.

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