Apple's 'Essential Patents' Call Backed by Microsoft and Cis

Microsoft has pledged not to block rival companies' products if they infringe any patents that Microsoft owns which are deemed "essential" to an industry standard.

Examples of these 'essential' patents cover intellectual property rights, without which widely used formats, like MP3 or JPEG, could not work.

Microsoft's action follows a leaked Apple letter in which the company wrote to European officials asking all tech firms to sign up to a similar commitment.

The move puts the two tech giants at odds with the recent product-blocking attempts by Motorola Mobility and Samsung.
Microsoft lawyer David Heiner explained that the internet only worked because firms had agreed to license their inventions to each other in a post on the company's official blog.

"Would you buy a smartphone, an iPad or a personal computer that couldn't play video or connect to wireless networks?" he asked.

"Probably not. This is why antitrust enforcers have taken a keen interest recently in patent acquisitions and attempts by patent holders to block competitors from shipping products that implement industry standards."

Microsoft and Apple's call has also received backing from the networking equipment maker Cisco Systems.

The European Commission is investigating whether Samsung distorted competition in the mobile device market by failing to license key technologies to rivals because of payment disputes. Samsung attempted to sue Apple last year, but a Dutch court threw out its claim.

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