In a post its official blog, Microsoft confirmed on Tuesday an official change to its policy on licensing of industry standard patents
"The international standards system works well," the statement says, "because firms that contribute to standards promise to make their essential patents available to others on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms." The statement also seems to call Apple to account, noting that "[c]onsumers and the entire industry will suffer if, in disregard of this promise, firms seek to block others from shipping products on the basis of such standard essential patents."
As part of the new policy, Microsoft has vowed to "always adhere" to promises made to standards organizations. The Redmond, WA-based company has vowed not to sue or seek injunctions against companies using "those essential patents," and to make licenses available without quid pro quo sharing of patents from a licensing company, except when those patents are "essential to the same industry standard".
While this move could be interpreted as intended to avoid worldwide courtroom fights like the ongoing conflict between Apple and Samsung, it is also intended to force the hand of its competitors. Google announced on the same day its own policy regarding the licensing of industry standard patents, one directly at odds with Microsoft's. Google intends to retain the option to seek an injunction should patent negotiations fail. As Microsoft's new policy also states they will not license patents to companies whose policies are not in lockstep with their own, it would seem the disagreement over Google's supposed cribbing of elements from Windows in the creation of Android will continue apace.
For further reading, Dave Heiner, the head of Microsoft's Corporate Standards Group & Antitrust Group, elaborated the new policy in a lengthy post to Technet. The company has recently-inked patent sharing deals with Quanta, Samsung, Acer, and ViewSonic.