Autodesk, Microsoft Ink Cross-Licensing Deal

By Peter Galli  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Deal gives the companies access to a broad range of patent portfolios, including in the areas of data management, collaboration, digital effects and digital rights management.

Autodesk Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have entered into a cross-licensing agreement that gives both companies access to a broad range of one another's patent portfolios in a move that should allow each company to broaden its product offerings.

The two companies will announce the deal on Thursday, which will promote the exchange and implementation of patented technologies in many areas, including data management, collaboration, design data management, digital effects, digital rights management, project management, computer-aided design and location-based services.

David Kaefer, Microsoft's director of intellectual property licensing, told eWEEK in an interview that this is a straight-up patent licensing agreement and continues the momentum following similar agreements with SAP, Siemens and Cisco Systems Inc.

"Autodesk [a software and services company for the building, manufacturing, infrastructure, digital media and wireless data services fields] and Microsoft have worked together for many years," he said. "Autodesk is one of Microsoft's most successful ISV partners and is very involved in many of our beta programs. We have had a very rich technical collaboration relationship with them, but we have not had a patent cross-licensing agreement with them until now."

Autodesk's market leadership is in digital media around animation and editing, building applications, and manufacturing process. "Certainly their graphics is of mutual interest to us. That was a rich area for us, and we will be licensing one another's designs so that we can both move forward in that space," Kaefer said.

But the deal does not signify any product strategy changes for the two companies, Kaefer said, but merely reflects the reality of the need for these types of business arrangements.

"If you think about what we are doing in the Xbox area—for example, video games—there is no doubt that Autodesk's leadership in 3-D graphics rendering has some value for some things we want to do," he said.

Check out "Gamers Get Their Hands on 'Halo 2.'"

"That also carries through to other product lines, like when we think about Longhorn [the next version of Windows] and some of the graphical user interface types of experiences we'd like to see there going forward. Graphics is serious business, and Autodesk has done a lot of interesting things there," he said.

Marcia Sterling, a senior vice president at Autodesk, said the company is committed to pursuing technologies that improve the products and services it provides customers, whether through research and development, joint ventures or alliances. "Many Microsoft and Autodesk products are already tightly integrated, we share many joint customers, and we're pleased to expand this mutually beneficial relationship," she said.

Microsoft is currently engaged in a number of cross-licensing agreement discussions in the United States, Europe and Asia with software, hardware, digital media and telecommunications companies, many of whom are very diverse, Kaefer said.

The goal is to have cross-licensing agreements with the 30 to 40 global companies that hold the most patents. "That's our goal for the next five years," he said, adding that the benefit of such relationships include development freedom, strong relationships and alliances as well as encouraging technical standardization.

Defending intellectual property and patent licensing is also quickly becoming a hot button for proprietary and open-source software developers alike, with some in the industry saying it is not a case of if but when Linux and open-source software developers will be forced to license other vendors' intellectual property, regardless of how complicated it may be to execute under the GPL (GNU General Public License).

Check out eWEEK.com's for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...