Runaway IP

UPDATE: Alcatel-Lucent GC Steve Reynolds submitted a letter to the editor in response to this column. You can read it here.

One of our lawyers stopped me in the hallway, asking, "Have you heard about the verdict from San Diego?" I hadn't, although I'd been following closely the patent case Alcatel-Lucent had filed against us there. The case involved two patents that were less relevant to our products than a much broader patent pool Microsoft had previously licensed for $16 million.

Amid all the calls for legal innovation by courts and legislators, it's easy to forget that in-house counsel in companies have important roles to play as well. As technologies converge and business models collide, one of the most important innovations will come in the form of new IP licensing models between companies and industries.

Indeed, creative approaches to IP licensing may do more than anything else to ensure that technology and IP move forward together. Microsoft's recent agreement with Novell, building a bridge between proprietary and open-source software, is but one example of the opportunities for legal innovation.

staff Writer

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