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Microsoft Licensing Deal Grants Access To Linux Printers

Since launching its Intellectual Property Licensing program in December 2003, Microsoft has been aggressive about engaging in such deals.

Hoping to give their respective research efforts a shot of adrenaline, Microsoft and Brother Industries have agreed to a broad patent licensing deal that gives Microsoft access to Brother's embedded Linux printing products.

The agreement, which includes compensation paid to Microsoft by Brother, gives Brother access to Microsoft's patents for Brother's current and future products, including multifunction products and "certain Linux-based embedded devices." Microsoft in turn gains access to Brother's patents for Microsoft's current and future products, including Windows and Office and a number of other unspecified IT products.

Since launching its Intellectual Property Licensing program in December 2003, Microsoft has been aggressive about engaging in such deals. Redmond has entered into 500 licensing agreements in a little more than five years. Other licensing deals involving printing technologies include those with Hewlett-Packard, Kyocera Mita, Samsung, and Seiko Epson. Most of these agreements have involved embedded Linux technology.

Microsoft officials believe such agreements will prove to be an integral ingredient in ultimately offering IT shops greater innovation in tying together multiple environments, most notably Linux.

"We believe that intellectual property licensing is an empowering way to bring innovation to the IT ecosystem, as customers continue to tell us they need greater collaboration in what is increasingly diverse IT environments," said David Kaefer, general manager of intellectual property and licensing at Microsoft.

Many of these companies offer printers based on embedded Linux technology. Microsoft officials say they've been active in pursuing licensing agreements with these companies because of the growing popularity of Linux for networked, high-speed office printers.

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