In the art of war, Sun Tzu is quoted as saying, “He who wishes to fight must first count the cost. When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull, and their ardor will be dampened. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.” Perhaps the patent experts of both Microsoft and Fuji Xerox realized that its better to license than to go to war.
Today Microsoft Technology Licensing and Fuji Xerox announced a broad patent cross-licensing agreement. While the announcement is new, the relationship between Microsoft and Fuji Xerox is not. The two companies have had a licensing relationship that dates back to 2007. Today’s announcement, however, ensures that both Microsoft and Fuji Xerox continue to benefit mutually from access to each other’s patent portfolios and R&D.
Specificcally, the agreement covers products and services offered by the two companies in relation to digital imaging, mobile consumer products, and document management. The corporate vice president of Fuji Xerox, Yasuaki Onishi said, “We are pleased to continue our mutually beneficial patent agreement that respects each company’s innovations and intellectual property, encourages greater interoperability, and provides valuable protections for consumers.”
This license agreement is just one of 1,100 licensing agreements Microsoft has entered into since the launch of the IP licensing program back in December 2003. While battles between Microsoft, Apple, Google and Android using OEM’s make headlines, we should try not to lose sight of how many companies choose to partner and benefit rather than litigate.