Microsoft, Amazon ink cross-licensing agreement

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Microsoft and Amazon have inked a new cross-licensing agreement that gives the companies access to some of each other's patents. Details are limited, but Microsoft mentioned that Amazon's Kindle e-reader and the shopping giant's use of Linux-based servers are included. Microsoft didn't specify what intellectual properties it would share with Amazon.

Along with the licensing arrangement, it's said that Amazon will pay Microsoft a chunk of money, but the companies didn't say how much. In fact, the motive behind the deal itself is undisclosed. Some suggest Amazon agreed to the terms to avoid a patent-infringement suit from Microsoft. Other companies that use Linux have signed patent deals, and Redmond has repeatedly claimed the software violates some of its patents.

About a year ago, Microsoft sued TomTom over eight patents -- including three related to the GPS-maker's implementation of the Linux kernel. ITIC principal Laura DiDio noted, "It makes more sense for companies to make nice and do a cross-licensing agreement -- Microsoft has come to realize that legal action is often more costly than it is worth."

Microsoft has entered more than 600 licensing agreements since the company launched its IP licensing program in December 2003.

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