Microsoft Corp. on Monday will announce that it has settled another outstanding lawsuit: It will pay multimedia anti-piracy company InterTrust Technologies Corp. a one-time payment of $440 million for a comprehensive license to InterTrust's patent portfolio in an agreement that also resolves all outstanding litigation between the two companies.
In addition, the agreement allows Microsoft to accelerate the development and promotion of digital rights management solutions. As part of the agreement, InterTrust, of Santa Clara, Calif., also receives rights under Microsoft patents to design and publish InterTrust reference technology specifications related to DRM (digital rights management)and security.
Marshall Phelps, deputy general counsel and corporate vice president of intellectual property at Microsoft, said in a statement, seen by eWEEK on Sunday night, that the licensing of InterTrust's patent portfolio "reaffirms Microsoft's commitment to the importance of intellectual property rights as well as our commitment to our customers to stand behind our products in these emerging technology areas.
"One of our goals with this and our broader intellectual property (IP) licensing program is to provide peace of mind for our customers and partners by letting them know that patent licensing is our responsibility," he said.
Will Poole, senior vice president of the Windows client business at Microsoft, said in a statement that DRM solutions are essential to secure valuable personal, business and commercial content in a massively connected world.
"With our existing technology and IP portfolio combined with our new agreement with InterTrust, Microsoft is committed to working with the broader industry to accelerate the promotion of DRM standards and solutions.
"Microsoft and our partners are delivering the most powerful and flexible rights management solutions in the industry, while assuring customers that we have the IP necessary in striving to secure our products," Poole said.
For his part, Talal Shamoon, CEO of InterTrust, said the agreement validates InterTrust's intellectual property portfolio "as seminal to advancing DRM and trusted computing in the marketplace."
"InterTrust will continue to help drive the adoption of these important technologies through our inventions, licensing programs and reference technologies, and we expect to develop a thriving licensing business going forward," he said.
InterTrust first filed suit against Microsoft in 2001, alleging that the software maker violated 11 of its patents with Windows, Office, Windows Media Player and Xbox.
Last July, a federal judge sided with InterTrust in its suit against Microsoft. InterTrust was then bought for $453 million in November by Fidelio Acquisition Co., a venture in which Sony is a key partner.
Monday's settlement of InterTrust's patent infringement suit is the latest in a string of such moves by Microsoft, which just 10 days ago agreed to a $1.95 billion settlement with Sun Microsystems Inc., of Santa Clara.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told eWEEK in an interview at the company's Redmond, Wash., campus last week that the company is growing up. After years of serving the enterprise, Microsoft is now hoping to play a new role—as a trusted and responsible partner to the IT industry.
That repositioning effort has two fundamental components to it. The first is the need to resolve and/or settle as many outstanding legal issues as possible to free the company to carry out its vision, while the second centers on the security of the company's products, an area that has been under enormous scrutiny inside and outside Microsoft.
Microsoft enraged the open-source community earlier this year when it took a Unix source code and patent license from The SCO Group, a move many in the community saw as Microsoft's behind-the-scenes funding of the Lindon, Utah, company.
The InterTrust settlement agreement ensures that Microsoft's customers can use its products and services without requiring a license from InterTrust. In addition, software developers who build products that use Microsoft platform technology will not require an InterTrust license for normal and expected uses of the Microsoft technologies, a Microsoft spokesman told eWEEK.
However, developers, including systems integrators, may need a license from InterTrust for other uses of Microsoft technology, including cases in which Microsoft technology is combined with third-party technology, he said.
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