Microsoft licenses patents for technology originally invented (but not currently owned) by Palm
According to multiple news reports, Microsoft has just agreed to license multiple smartphone-related patents (74 in all, according to the Wall Street Journal), including those involving technology created by Palm.
In fact, the Palm technology is being licensed to Microsoft not by Palm or HP but by Access Co., Ltd., the Japanese company that owns the rights to PalmOS after having acquired Palm spin-off company PalmSource in 2005. (Access' independence from Palm is notably clear in its having recently developed and marketed Graffiti handwriting technology for Android phones, as we reported in July.)
Microsoft's new licenses from Access, together with others obtained as part of the same deal from Acacia Research Corporation, may help Microsoft avoid or fight some of the ongoing smartphone-related patent suits being crossfiled all over the world. It is not clear, though, what implications this move by Microsoft may have for Palm itself. It is possible that, under the terms of the licenses and/or because of the original Palm/Palmsource relationship, Microsoft might be less likely or able to bring smartphone patent claims against Palm, and vice versa. It's certainly a safe bet, though, that Palm retains its own rights to use PalmSource-derived technology now owned by Access, regardless of the Microsoft deal. (PalmSource's patents can be seen on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office here.)