IBM and Samsung have agreed on a patent cross-licensing deal under which the companies are licensing their "respective" patent portfolios to each other.
According to IBM, the deal includes a "wide range" of semiconductors, telecommunications, visual and mobile communication, software and technology services. While there was no detailed information available our sources mentioned that the agreement is likely among the widest ranging ever signed in the IT industry.
Of course, such an agreement was merely a matter of time, as IBM and Samsung are the leading organizations in the U.S. patent race in which the companies are attempting to acquire copyrights in truckload volumes. Of the 219,614 patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last year, IBM gobbled up 5896 and Samsung 4551. This week alone, IBM was granted 152 patents and applied for 47, which is a rather low number for the company. Samsung received 113 patents and filed 121 applications.
Not all of the patents filed and granted relate directly to the company's business and the patent listings are occasionally entertaining reading material from the outside. For example, IBM received a patent for a specific (lawn) irrigation system and Samsung recently ventured into automatic shooting robots. The favorite remains Samsung's attempt to patent the patent. So it makes only sense that these two giants cross-patent a large portion of their "portfolios".
We are actually somewhat surprised that innovation in this country can still happen without getting your pants sued off. "Patents and innovation are a critical component of IBM's high-value business strategy," said Ken King, vice president, Patents, Software & Services IP Licensing for IBM, in a prepared statement. "In addition to protecting the huge investment we make in R&D, patents also allow us establish cross-licenses, which provide IBM and partners like Samsung with significant freedom of action, which is essential in the competitive global business environment."