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25 July 2012, 15:56

Microsoft licenses patents for Linux server data centers

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Microsoft has announced that it has entered into a mutual patent licensing agreement with Amdocs, an international software developer offering billing and CRM services to tier-1 and -2 telecommunications providers. Amdocs employs nearly 20,000 people and has annual sales of over three billion dollars. The release from Microsoft gives no details on the licensing deal itself, except that it includes "a license under Microsoft's patent portfolio covering Amdocs' use of Linux-based servers in its data centers". The only other information given is that Amdocs will pay Microsoft an undisclosed amount of money under the terms of the agreement.

Since December 2003, Microsoft has operated an IP licensing programme where it makes money from its own patent portfolio through licensing. Microsoft has also repeatedly said that Linux infringes upon 235 Microsoft patents. Microsoft's actions immediately raised concerns that it would be using the patent licensing programme to impede open source based competition.

Amdocs is far from the first Linux-using company to enter into a licensing agreement with Microsoft. Many cases have included Microsoft's FAT and VFAT patents, such as the TomTom case in 2009. Microsoft sued TomTom over 8 patents, 3 of which related to long and short file names or writing to Flash. The dispute was settled with a patent licence agreement.

In July 2009, Microsoft signed a Linux-related patent agreement with Buffalo for their Linux-based NAS devices and routers. There have also been a vast number of Android device makers who have signed agreements with Microsoft regarding patents. Some fought the demands, such as Barnes and Noble; in that case, which didn't refer to the FAT/VFAT patents, a more complex deal was struck to end the litigation which also included a patent deal. In all these agreements, the specific patents involved in the licence deal and the royalty payments demanded were kept secret.


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