Microsoft Settles Patent Suit

Gretchen Gallen
REDMOND, Wash – Just as the patent wars are heating up for the technology industry, Microsoft has taken a proactive stance in ending some of the pending patent infringement lawsuits that have been lingering in its corporate periphery for quite some time.

On the heels settling an ongoing patent infringement lawsuit with Sun Microsystems last week for a whopping $1.6 billion, Microsoft extended the olive branch to InterTrust Technologies, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based developer and licensor of solutions for digital rights management (DRM) and digital policy management (DPM).

InterTrust accused Microsoft of using its anti-piracy solutions without going through the proper licensing channels. InterTrust filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in 2001. The company is partly owned by Sony and Philips and provides security solutions to the film industry.

InterTrust was originally shooting for a settlement of billions of dollars, but settled for a one-time $440 million retroactive licensing fee. According to the company, all outstanding litigation between the two tech giants has been resolved.

InterTrust will also receive rights under Microsoft patents to design and publish InterTrust reference technology specifications related to DRM and security. However, according to InterTrust, developers and system integrators may need to license separately from InterTrust for other uses of Microsoft technology, including cases in which Microsoft technology is combined with third party technology.

“Today’s announcement validates InterTrust’s intellectual property portfolio as seminal to advancing DRM and trusted computing in the marketplace,” Talal Shamoon, chief executive officer for InterTrust, said in a statement. “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.”

Despite its two recent settlements, Microsoft's list of pending litigation still remains substantial. The software maker is being sued by the European Union for unfair business practices, and just last week a South Korean Internet portal filed an anti-trust suit against Microsoft for dominating the Korean broadband market with its Windows XP platform.