Microsoft on Wednesday published a statement in which it pledged to license its "standard essential patents" using "fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms." The statement follows a private pledge from Google to do the same with the Motorola Mobility patents, should its purchase of that company be approved by regulators.
"Microsoft's approach is straight-forward," the statement reads. "Microsoft will always adhere to the promises it has made to standards organizations to make its standard essential patents available on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms. This means that Microsoft will not seek an injunction or exclusion order against any firm on the basis of those essential patents."
While Microsoft's statement is essentially a formalization of the actions it has already undertaken with regards to competitors using its patented technologies, that latter sentence is interesting. And it appears to be an implicit attack against Apple, which has resisted cross-licensing and has instead sought to prevent competitors from selling their devices in various companies using various legal strategies.
Other companies have adopted similar strategies against Apple as a result. Both Motorola Mobility and Samsung are trying to ban the sale of Apple devices in various countries, a "scorched earth" policy that critics say Apple brought on itself.
That said, Microsoft is currently engaged in a legal battle with Barnes & Noble, which has refused to license patents that Microsoft says the firm's Android-based NOOK devices are infringing on. One possible but remote outcome of that case is that NOOK devices could be banned for sale in the US.
Microsoft also promised that it would license its own patents without requiring licensees to cross-license their own related patents. This, too, is not necessarily new information as many of Microsoft recent patent licenses in the mobile industry have been one-way transactions.