Microsoft licenses some Palm smartphone patents

Jon Rubinstein, chairman and chief executive of Palm, talks about new games for Palm phones in Las Vegas, January 7, 2010. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp has licensed some technology relating to rival Palm Inc’s smartphones, the latest move in a complex web of deals and litigation in the fast-growing phone sector.

The world’s largest software company, which launches its new range of smartphones next week, licensed the patents from ACCESS Co Ltd and a unit of Acacia Research Corp. Those companies said the portfolio of patents licensed covered inventions by Palm, Palmsource, Bell Communications Research, and Geoworks.

Microsoft, which has licensing deals with many technology companies, did not provide any details.

“By focusing on efficiently licensing patented innovations from other companies, we’re free to develop great software and we’re able to provide our partners and customers intellectual property peace-of-mind,” said David Kaefer, Microsoft’s general manager of intellectual property and licensing, in a statement.

The licensing deal should lessen the possibility of legal wrangling with Palm, which is now owned by Hewlett-Packard Co.

A number of software companies and handset makers, including Microsoft, have filed lawsuits against each other in the past year or so over contested patents as smartphones have grown in popularity.

Last week Microsoft sued Motorola Inc, alleging patent infringement with its Android phones.

Finnish phone maker Nokia sued iPhone creator Apple Inc last year, and Apple subsequently sued handset maker HTC Corp. Oracle Corp has also sued Google Inc over its Android software.

Reporting by Bill Rigby; Editing by Richard Chang